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Frontispiece— Irving, Vol. Thirteen. 











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Brigham Young University-Idaho 



Irving, Vol. Thirteen, p. 3. 





Montgomery before Quebec — His Plan of Operations — A Summons 
to Surrender — A Flag Insulted — The Town Besieged — Plan of 
an Escalade— Attack of the Lower Town — Montgomery in the 
Advance — His Death — Retreat of Colonel Campbell — Attack 
by Arnold — Defense of the Lower Town — Arnold Wounded — 
Retreat of the Americans — Gallant Resolve of Arnold . S5 


Correspondence of Washington and Schuyler on the Disasters in 
Canada — Re-enforcements required from New England — Dan- 
gers in the Interior of New York — Johnson Hall beleaguered — 
Sir John capitulates — Generous Conduct of Schuyler — Governor 
Tryon and the Tories — Tory Machinations — Lee at New York — 
Sir Henry Clinton in the Harbor — Menaces of Lee — The City 
and River fortified — Lee's Treatment of the Tories — His Plans 
of Fortification — Ordered to the Command in Canada — His 
Speculations on Titles of Dignity ^ 


Monotonous State of Affairs before Boston — Washington anxious 
for Action— 'Exploit of Putnam — Its Dramatic Consequences — 
The Farce of the Blockade of Boston — An Alarming Interrup- 
tion — Distresses of the Besieged — Washington's Irksome Pre- 
dicament — His Bold Proposition — Demur of the Council of War 
•^Arrival of Knox with Artillery — Dorchester Heights to be 
Seized and Fortified — Preparations for the Attempt . . .45 


6 ^opter^ts 


The Affair of Dorchester Heights — American and English Letters 
respecting it — A Laborious Night — Revelations at Daybreak — 
Howe in a Perplexity — A Night Attack meditated— Stormy 
Weather — The Town to be Evacuated — Negotiations and Ar- 
rangements — Preparations to Embark — Excesses of the Troops 
— Boston Evacuated — Speech of the Duke of Manchester on the 
Subject — A Medal voted by Congress 53 


Destination of the Fleet — Commission of the two Howes — Char- 
acter of Lord Howe — The Colonies divided into Departments — 
Lee assigned to the Southern Department — General Thomas to 
Canada — Character of Lee, by Washington — Letters of Lee from 
the South — A Dog in a Dancing School — Committee of Safety in 
Virginia — Lee's Grenadiers — Putnam in Command at New York 
— State of Affairs there — Arrival of Washington — New Arrange- 
ments — Perplexities with respect to Canada — England subsidizes 
Hessian Troops 66 


Arnold blockades Quebec — His Difficulties — Arrival of General 
Wooster — Of General Thomas — Abortive Attempt on Quebec 
— Preparations for Retreat — Sortie of Carleton — Retreat of the 
Americans — Halt at Point Deschambault — Alarm in the Colo- 
nies at the Retreat of the Army — Popular Clamor against 
Schuyler — Slanders Refuted 79 


Gates sent to Philadelphia with the Canada Dispatches— Promoted 
to the rank of Major-General — Washington summoned to Phila- 
delphia — Putnam left in Command — Conference with Congress 
—Army Arrangements — A Board of War instituted — The Clin- 
tons of New York — Mrs. Washington Inoculated — Reed made 
Adjutant-General . ..o ...... 86 

^oi7tept8 7 


Affairs in Canada — Disaster at the Cedars — Hostile Designs of the 
Johnsons— A Bloody Summer expected — Forts in the Highlands 
— Colonel James Clinton in Command — Fortifications at King's 
Brivige and on Long Island 92 


Betreat of General Thomas— His Death — General Sullivan in Com- 
mand — Scene on the Sorel — Sanguine Expectations of Sullivan 
— Washington's Opinion of Sullivan's Character —Gates ap- 
pointed to the Command in Canada — Re-enforcements of the 
Enemy — Reverses — Thompson Captured — Retreat of Sullivan — 
Close of the Invasion of Canada 99 


Designs of the Enemy against New York and the Hudspn — Plot of 
Tryon and the Tories — Arrival of a Fleet — Alarm Posts — ^Treach- 
ery up the Hudson— Fresh Arrivals — General Howe at Staten 
Island — Washington's Preparations 106 


First Appearance of Alexander Hamilton — His Early Days — Gen- 
eral Hugh Mercer in command of the Flying Camp — Declara- 
tion of Independence — Announced to the Army — Downfall of 
the King's Statue 114 


^4rrival of more Ships — Movements of the "Phoenix" and the 
"Rose" — Panic in the City — Hostile Ships up the Hudson — 
Stir of War along the River— General George Clinton, and tha 
Militia of Ulster County — Fresh Agitation of New York— Ar- 
rival of Lord Howe ......... 131 


Precautions against Tories — Secret Committees — Declaration of 

Lord Howe — His Letter to the Colonial Governors — His Letter 

8 ^OQteQts 

to Washington Rejected — Interview between the British Adju- 
tant-General and Colonel Reed — Reception of the Adjutant- 
General by Washington — The "Phoenix" and "Rose" in the 
Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay — Arming of the River Yeo- 
manry — George Clinton at the Gates of the Highlands . . 196 


Question of Command between Gates and Schuyler — Condition of 
the Army at Crown Pomt — Discontent and Departure of SulU- 
Tan — Fortifications at Ticonderoga — The Question of Command 
Adjusted — Secret Discontents — Sectional Jealousies in the 
Army— sSouthern Troops — Smallwood's Macaroni Battalion — 
Connecticut Light-Horse 135 


Southern Cruise of Sir Henry Clinton — Fortifications at Charleston 
— Arrival there of General Lee — Battle at Sullivan's Island — 
Washington announces the result to the Army • . . . 146 


Putnam^s Military Projects — Chevaux-de-frise at Fort Washingtcm 
— Meditated Attack on Staten Island — Arrival of Ships — Hes- 
sian Re-enforcements — Scotch Highlanders — Sir Henry Clin- 
ton and Lord Cornwallis — Putnam's Obstructions of the Hud- 
son — ^The ''Phoenix" and "Rose" attacked by Row (ralleys at 
Tarrytown — General Order of Washington on the subject of 
Sectional Jealousies — Profane Swearing prohibited in the Camp 
— Preparations against Attack — Levies of Yeomanry — George 
Clinton in Command of the Levies along the Hudson — ^Alarms 
of the People of New York — Benevolent Sympathy of Wash- 
ington—The "Phoenix" Grappled by a Fire-Ship— The Ships 
Evacuate the Hudson 153 

The Battle of Long Island e • . 164 

<?oi7tept8 9 

The Retreat from Long Island .... . • , . 182 


Long Island in Possession of the Enemy — Distressed Situation of 
the American Army at New York — Question of Abandoning 
the City — Letters from either Camp — Enemy's Ships in the 
Sound — Removal of Women and Children from the City — 
Yearning for Home among the Militia — Tolerant Ideas of 
Washington and Greene — Fort Constitution — Conference of 
Lord Howe with a Committee from Congress . . . 190 



Movements of the Enemy — Councils of War — Question of the 
Abandonment of the City — Distribution of the Army — Ships 
in the East River — ^The Enemy at Hell Gate — Skirmish at Tur- 
tle Bay — Panic of the Connecticut Militia — Rage and Personal 
Peril of Washington — Putnam's Perilous Retreat from the City 
—British Regale at Murray Hill 200 


Fortified Camp at King's Bridge — American and British Lines — 
The Morris House — Alexander Hamilton — The Enemy Advance 
— Successful Skirmish — Death of Knowlton — Great Fire in New 
York — Reorganization of the Army — Exchange of Prisoners — 
Daniel Morgan Regained — Delancey's Tory Brigade — Robert 
Rogers, the Partisan — His Rangers — The "Roebuck," "Phoenix" 
and "Tartar" in the Hudson — Military Movements by Land and 
Water — Letter of John Jay 308 


Lee expected in Camp — His Letter of Advice to the President of 
Congress — The Enemy at Throg's Neck — Washington's Arrange- 
ments — Rides to Throg's Neck — The Enemy brought to a Stand 
— Military Movements — Arrival of Lee — A Command assigned 

lO <?or>ter>ts 

to him — Criticises the conduct of Congress and the Army- 
Council of "War — The Army to move to the Mainland — ^^Fort 
Washington to be kept up S25 


Army Arrangements — ^Washington at White Plains — The Enemy at 
Tlirog's Point — Skirmish of Colonel Glover — Attempt to Sur- 
prise Rogers, the Renegade — Troopers in a rough Country — 
Alarms at White Plains — Cannonading of Ships at Fort Wash- 
ington — March of Lee — Fortified Camp at White Plains — Re- 
connoitering — The Affair at Chatterton Hill — Relative Situation 
of the Armies — Change of Position — Contrast of the Appear- 
ance of the Troops — George Clinton's Idea of Strategy — Move- 
ment of the British Army — Incendiaries at White Plains . . 232 


Conjectures as to the Intentions of the Enemy — Consequent Pre- 
cautions — Correspondence with Greene respecting Fort Wash- 
ington — Distribution of the Army — Lee left in Command at 
Northcastle — Instructions to him — Washington at Peekskill — 
Visits to the Posts in the Highlands 246 


Affairs on Lake Champlain — Gates at Ticonderoga — Arnold's Flo- 
tilla — Military Preparations of Sir Guy Carleton at St. John's — 
Nautical Encounters — Gallant Conduct of Arnold and Water- 
bury — Carleton in Possession of Crown Point — His Return to 
Canada and Winter Quarters 258 


Washington crosses the Hudson — Arrives at Fort Lee — Affairs at 
Fort Washington — Question about its Abandonment — Move- 
ments of Howe — The Fort summoned to Surrender — Refusal 
of Colonel Magaw — Tlie Fort attacked — Capture of the Fort 
and Garrison — Comments of Washington on the State of 
Affairs 261 

<?or>teQt8 11 


The Enemy cross the Hudson — Retreat of the Garrison from Fort 
Lee — The Crossing of the Hackensack — Lee ordered to move to 
the West Side of the River — Reed's Letter to him — Second move 
of the Army — Beyond the Passaic — Assistance sought from va- 
rious Quarters — Correspondence and Schemes of Lee — Heath 
stanch to his Instructions — Anxiety of George Clinton for the 
Safety of the Hudson — Critical Situation of the Army — Dis- 
paraging Correspondence between Lee and Reed — Washington 
retreats across the Raritan — Arrives at Trenton — Removes his 
Baggage across the Delaware — Dismay and Despondency of the 
Country — Proclamation of Lord Howe — Exultation of the En- 
emy — Washington's Resolve in case of Extremity . . . 378 


Lee at Peekskill — Stanch adherence of Heath to Orders — Lee crosses 
the Hudson — Washington at Trenton — Lee at the Heels of the 
Enemy — His Speculations on Military Greatness — Forced March 
of Cornwallis — Washington crosses the Delaware — Putnam in 
Command at Philadelphia — Baffling Letters of Lee — Hopes to 
reconquer the Jerseys — Gates on the March — Lee quartered at 
Baskingridge — Surprised and Captured— Speculations on his 
Conduct 890 


Washington clothed with Additional Powers — Recrui'tment of the 
Army— Increased Pay— Colonel John Cadwalader — Arrival of 
Sullivan— Gates — Wilkinson — A Coup de Main meditated — Post- 
ure of Affairs at Trenton — Gates declines to take a part — His 
Comments on Washington's Plans — Preparations for the Coup 
de Main — Crossing of the Delaware — Attack on the Enemy's 
Forces at Trenton — Death of Rahl — His Character . . . 806 


treatment of the Hessian Prisoners — Their Interviews with Wash- 
ington — Their Reception by the People 327 

12 ^optepts 


Episode — Colonel Griffin in the Jerseys — Donop decoyed — Inroad of 
Cadwalader and Reed — Retreat and Confusion of the Enemy's 
Outposts — Washington recrosses the Delaware with his Troops 
— The Game reversed — The Hessians hunted back through the 
Country — Washington made Military Dictator .... 330 


Howe hears of the A flfair at Trenton — Cornwaliis sent back to the 
Jerseys — Reconnoitering Expedition of Reed — His Exploits — 
Washington in Peril at Trenton — Re-enforced by Troops under 
Cadwalader and Mifflin — Position of his Men — Cornwaliis at 
Trenton — Repulsed at the Assunpink — The American Camp 
menaced — Night March of Washington — Affair at Princeton 
— Death of Mercer — Rout of British Troops — Pursued by Wash- 
ington — Cornwaliis at Princeton — Baffled and Perplexed— Wash- 
ington at Morristown — His System of Annoyance — ^The Tables 
turned upon the Enemy 336 



Burke on the State of Affairs in America — New Jersey Roused to 
Arms —Washington grants Safe Conduct to Hessian Convoys — 
Encampment at Morristown — Putnam at Princeton — His Strata- 
gem to Conceal the Weakness of his Camp — Exploit of General 
Dickinson near Somerset Court-House — Washington's Counter 
Proclamation — Prevalence of the Smallpox — Inoculation of the 
Army — Contrast of the British and American Commanders and 
their Camps c . . 353 


Negotiations for Exchange of Prisoners — Case of Colonel Ethan 
Allen— Of General Lee — Correspondence of Washington with 

Sir William Howe about Exchanges of Prisoners — Referees ap- 
pointed — Letters of Lee from New York — Case of Colonel Camp- 
bell — Washington's Advice to Congress on the Subject of Re- 
taliation — His Correspondence with Lord Howe about the 
Treatment of Prisoners— The Horrors of the Jersey Prison- 
Ship and the Suga,r House 368 


Exertions to form a New Army — Calls on the Different States-— In- 
sufficiency of the Militia — Washington's Care for the Yeomanry 
— Dangers in the Northern Department — Winter Attack on Ti- 
conderoga apprehended — Exertions to re-enforce Schuyler — Pre- 
carious State of Washington's Army — Conjectures as to the 
Designs of the Enemy — Expedition of the British against 
Peekskill 374 


Schuyler's Affairs in the Northern Department — Misunderstandings 
with Congress— Gives offense by a Reproachful Letter — Office 
of Adjutant-General offered to Gates — Declined by him — Schuy- 
ler Reprimanded by Congress for his Reproachful Letter — Gates 
appointed to the Command at Ticonderoga — Schuyler considers 
himself virtually suspended — Takes his Seat as a Delegate to 
Congress, and Claims a Court of Inquiry — Has Command at 
Philadelphia 381 


Foreign Officers Candidates for Situations in the Army — Difficulties 
in adjusting Questions of Rank — Ducoudray — Conway — Kosci- 
uszko — Washington's Guards — Arnold Omitted in the Army 
Promotions — Washington takes his Part — British Expedition 
against Danbury — Destruction of American Stores— Connecti- 
cut Yeomanry in Arms — Skirmish at Ridgefield — Death of Gen- 
eral Wooster — Gallant Services of Arnold — Rewarded by Con- 
gress — Exploit of Colonel Meigs at Sag Harbor .... 389 

14 <?0Qtept8 


Schuyler on the Point of Resigning — Committee of Inquiry Report 
in his Favor — His Memorial to Congress proves Satisfactory — 
Discussions regarding the Northern Department — Gates mis- 
taken as to his Position — He prompts his Friends in Congress — 
His petulant Letter to Washington — Dignified Reply of the Lat- 
ter — Position of Gates denied — Schuyler reinstated in Command 
of the Department — Gates appears on the Floor of Congress — 
His Proceedings there 403 


The Highland Passes of the Hudson — George Clinton in Command 
of the Forts — His Measures for Defense — Generals Greene and 
Knox examine the State of the Forts — Their Report — The gen- 
eral Command of the Hudson offered to Arnold — Declined by 
him — Given to Putnam — Appointment of Dr. Craik to the Medi- 
cal Department — Expedition planned against Fort Independence 
— But relinquished — Washington shifts his Camp to Middle- 
brook — State of his Army — General Howe crosses into the Jer- 
seys — Position of the two Armies at Middlebrook and behind 
the Raritan — Correspondence between Washington and Colonel 
Reed 412 


Feigned Movements of Sir W^illiam Howe — Baffling Caution of 
Washington — Rumored Inroads from the North — Schuyler ap- 
plies for Re-enforcements — Renewed Schemes of Howe to draw 
Washington from his Stronghold — Skirmish between Cornwal- 
lis and Lord Stirling— The Enemy evacuate the Jerseys — Per- 
plexity as to their next Movement — A Hostile Fleet on Lake 
Champlain — Burgoyne approaching Ticonderoga — Speculations 
of Washington — His Purpose of keeping Sir William Howe from 
ascending the Hudson — Orders George Clinton to call out Mi- 
litia from Ulster and Orange Counties — Sends Sullivan toward 
the Highlands — Moves his own Camp back to Morristown — StL* 
among the Shipping — Their Destination surmised to be Phila- 

^or>tei7t8 15 

delphia — A Dinner at Headquarters — Alexander Hamilton — 
Gray don's Rueful Description of the Army — His Character of 
Wayne 424 


British Invasion from Canada— The Plan — Composition of the In- 
vading Army — Schuyler on the Alert — His Speculations as to 
the Enemy 's Designs — Burgoyne on Lake Champlain — His War 
Speech to his Indian Allies — Signs of his Approach descried 
from Ticonderoga — Correspondence on the Subject between St. 
Clair, Major Livingston, and Schuyler — Burgoyne intrenches 
near Ticonderoga — His Proclamation —Schuyler's Exertions at 
Albany to forward Re-enforcements — Hears that Ticonderoga 
Is Evacuated — Mysterious Disappearance of St. Clair and his 
Troops — Amazement and Concern of Washington — Orders Re- 
enforcements to Schuyler at Fort Edward, and to Putnam at 
Peekskill — Advances with his Main Army to the Clove — His 
Hopeful Spirit manifested 483 


Particulars of the Evacuation — Indian Scouts in the Vicinity of 
the Forts — Outposts abandoned by St. Clair — Burgoyne secures 
Mount Hope — Invests the Fortress — Seizes and occupies Sugar 
Hill — The Forts overlooked and in Imminent Peri] — Determina- 
tion to Evacuate — Plan of Retreat — Part of the Garrison depart 
for Skenesborough in the Flotilla — St. Clair crosses with the 
rest to Fort Independence — A Conflagration reveals his Retreat 
— The British Camp aroused — Eraser Pursues St. Clair — Bur- 
goyne with his Squadron makes after the Flotilla — Part of the 
Fugitives overtaken— Flight of the Remainder to Fort Anne- 
Skirmish of Colonel Long— Retreat to Fort Edward— St. Clair 
at Castleton— Attack of his Rearguard— Fall of Colonel Francis 
—Desertion of Colonel Hale— St. Clair reaches Fort Edward- 
Consternation of the Country — Exultation of the British . . 447 

16 ^opter>t8 


Capture of General Prescott — Proffered in Exchange for Lee^— Re- 
enforcements to Schuyler — Arnold sent to the North — Eastern 
Militia to repair to Saratoga — Further Re-enforcements — Gen- 
eral Lincoln and Arnold recommended for Particular Services 
— Washington's Measures and Suggestions for the Northern 
Campaign — British Fleet puts to Sea — Conjectures as to its Des- 
tination — A Feigned Letter — Appearance and Disappearance of 
the Fleet — Orders and Counter Orders of Washington — En- 
camps at Germantown — Anxiety for the Security of the High- 
lands — George Clinton on Guard — Call on Connecticut , . 458 


Gates on the Alert for a Command — Schuyler undermined in Con- 
gress — Put on his Guard — Courts a Scrutiny, but not before an 
expected Engagement — Summoned with St. Clair to Headquar- 
ters — Gates apj)ointed to the Northern Department — Washing- 
ton's Speculations on the Successes of Burgoyne — Ill-judged 
Meddlings of Congress with the Commissariat — Colonel Trum- 
bull resigns in consequence 469 


Washington's Perplexities about the British Fleet — Putnam and 
Governor Clinton put on the Alert in the Highlands — Morgan 
and his Riflemen sent to the North — Washington at Philadelphia 
— His first Interview with Lafayette — Intelligence about the 
Fleet — Explanations of its Movements — Review of the Army — 
Lafayette mistakes the nature of his Commission — His Alliance 
with Washington — March of the Army through Philadelphia — 
Encampment at Wilmington ....... 476 


Burgoyne at Skenesborough — Prepares to move toward the Hudson 
— Major Skene the Royalist — Slow March to Fort Anne — Schuy- 
ler at Fort Miller — Painted Warriors — Langlade — St. Luc— 

^0Qter>t8 17 

Honor of the Tomahawk — Tragical Story of Miss McCrea — 
Its Results — Burgoyne advances to Fort Edward— Schuyler at 
Stillwater — Joined by Lincoln — Burgoyne deserted by his In- 
' dian Allies 485 


Difficulties of Burgoyne — Plans an Expedition to Bennington— St. 
Leger before Fort Stanwix — General Herkimer at Oriskany — 
High Words with his Officers — A Dogged March — An Ambus- 
cade — Battle of Oriskany — Johnson's Greens — Death of Herki- 
mer — Spirited Sortie of Colonel Willett — Sir John Johnson 
driven to the River — Flight of the Indians — Sacking of Sir 
John's Camp — Colonel Gansevoort maintains his Post — Colonel 
Willett sent in quest of Aid — Arrives at Schuyler's Camp . . 4:9B 


Schuyler hears of the Affair of Oriskany — Applies for Re-enforce- 
ments — His Appeal to the Patriotism of Stark — Schuyler super- 
seded — His Conduct thereupon — Relief sent to Fort Stanwix — 
Arnold volunteers to conduct it — Change of Encampment — Pa- 
triotic Determination of Schuyler — Detachment of the Enemy 
against Bennington — Germans and their Indian Allies — Baum, 
the Hessian Leader — Stark in the Field — Mustering of the Mi- 
litia — ^A Belligerent Parson — Battle of Bennington — Breyman 
to the Rescue — Routed — Reception of the News in the Rival 
Camps — Washington urges New England to follow up the 
Blow 608 


Stratagem of Arnold to relieve Fort Stanwix — ^Yan Yost Cuyler — 
The Siege pressed — Indians intractable — Success of Arnold's 
Stratagem— Harassed Retreat of St. Leger — Moral Effect of 
the two Blows given to the Enemy — Brightening Prospects in 
the American Camp — Arrival of Gates — Magnanimous Conduct 
of Schuyler — Poorly requited by Gates — Correspondence be- 

18 <?oi>teT^t8 

tween Gates and Burgoyne concerning the Murder of Miss 
McCrea 515 


Landing of Howe's Army on Elk River — Measui'es to check it — Ex- 
posed Situation of Washington in Reconnoitering — Alarm of 
the Country — Proclamation of Howe — Arrival of Sullivan — 
Foreign OflScers in Camp — Deborre — Conway — Fleury — Count 
Pulaski — First Appearance in the Army of "Light-Horse Harry" 
of Virginia — Washington's Appeal to the Army — Movements of 
the Rival Forces — Battle of the Brandywine — Retreat of the 
Americans — Halt in Chester — Scenes in Philadelphia during 
the Battle — Congress orders out Militia — Clothes Washington 
with Extraordinary Powers — Removes to Lancaster — Rewards 
to Foreign Officers 523 


General Howe neglects to pursue his Advantage — Washington Re- 
treats to Germantown — Recrosses the Schuylkill and prepares 
for another Action — Prevented by Storms of Rain — Retreats to 
French Creek — Wayne detached to fall on the Enemy's Rear — 
His Pickets surprised — Massacre of Wayne's Men — Maneuvers 
of Howe on the Schuylkill — Washington sends for Re-enforce- 
ments — Howe marches into Philadelphia 589 


Dubious Position of Burgoyne — Collects his Forces — Ladies of Dis- 
tinction in his Camp — Lady Harriet Ackland — The Baroness de 
Riedesel — American Army Re-enforced — Silent Movements of 
Burgoyne — Watched from the Summit of the Hills — His March 
along the Hudson — Position of the two Camps — Battle on the 
19th Sept. — Burgoyne encamps nearer — Fortifies his Camp — 
Promised Co-operation by Sir Henry Clinton — Determines to 
await it — Quarrel between Gates and Arnold — Arnold deprived 
of Command — Burgoyne waits for Co-operation .... 546 

^opter>t8 19 


Preparations of Sir Henry Clinton — State of the Highland Defenses 
— Putnam Alarmed — Advance of the Armament up the Hudson 
— Plan of Sir Henry Clinton — Peekskill threatened — Putnam de- 
ceived — Secret March of the Enemy through the Mountains — 
Forts Montgomery and Clinton overpowered — Narrow Escape 
of the Commanders — Conflagration and Explosion of the Ameri- 
can Frigates— Rallying Efforts of Putnam and Governor Clin- 
ton — The Spy and the Silver Bullet — Esopus burned — Ravaging 
Progress of the Enemy up the Hudson , 5%2 







Montgomery before Quebec — His Plan of Operations — A Summons 
to Surrender— A Flag Insulted — The Town Besieged —Plan of 
an Escalade — Attack of the Lower Town — Montgomery in the 
Advance — His Death — Retreat of Colonel Campbell — Attack 
by Arnold — Defense of the Lower Town — Arnold Wounded — 
Retreat of the Americans — Gallant Resolve of Arnold 

From amid surrounding perplexities, Washington still 
turned a hopeful eye to Canada. He expected daily to re- 
ceive tidings that Montgomery and Arnold were within the 
walls of Quebec, and he had even written to the former to 
forward as much as could be spared of the large quantities 
of arms, blankets, clothing, and other military stores, said 
to be deposited there ; the army before Boston being in great 
need of such supplies. 

On the 18th of January came dispatches to him from 
General Schuyler, containing withering tidings. The follow- 
ing is the purport. Montgomery, on the 2d of December, 
the day after his arrival at Point aux Trembles, set off in 
face of a driving snow storm for Quebec, and arrived before 
it on the 5th. The works, from their great extent, appeared 
to him incapable of being defended by the actual garrison ; 
made up, as he said, of ** Maclean's banditti," the sailors 
Vol. XIII.— ***2 <^ 

26 U/orl^s of U/asI^ip^tOQ Iruip^ 

from the frigates and other vessels, together with the citizens 
obhged to take up arms ; most of whom were impatient of 
the fatigues of a siege and wished to see matters accommo- 
dated amicably. ''I propose," added he, ''amusing Mr. 
Carleton, with a formal attack, erecting batteries, etc., but 
mean to assault the works, I believe toward the lower town, 
which is the weakest part." 

According to his own account, his whole force did not ex- 
ceed nine hundred effective men, three hundred of whom he 
had brought with him ; the rest he found with Colonel Arnold. 
The latter he pronounced an exceeding fine corps, inured to 
fatigue, and well accustomed to a cannon shot, having served 
at Cambridge. * ' There is a style of discipline among them, ' ' 
adds he, ''much superior to what I have been used to see 
in this campaign. He, himself (Arnold), is active, intelli- 
gent, and enterprising. Fortune often baffles the sanguine 
expectations of poor mortals. I am not intoxicated with her 
favors, but I do think there is a fair prospect of success." '^ 

On the day of his arrival, he sent a flag with a sum- 
mons to surrender. It was fired upon, and obliged to retire. 
Exasperated at this outrage, which, it is thought, was com- 
mitted by the veteran Maclean, Montgomery wrote an indig- 
nant, reproachful, and even menacing letter to Carleton, 
reiterating the demand, magnifying the number of his troops, 
and warning him against the consequences of an assault. 
Finding it was rejected from the walls, it was conveyed in 
by a woman, together with letters addressed to the principal 
merchants, promising great indulgence in case of immediate 
submission. By Carleton's orders, the messenger was sent 
to prison for a few days, and then drummed out of town. 

* Montgomery to Schuyler, Dec. 5. 

Cife of U/a8l7ip<$toi7 27 

Montgomery now prepared for an attack. The ground 
was frozen to a great depth, and covered with snow; he was 
scantily provided with intrenching tools, and had only a field 
train of artillery, and a few mortars. By dint of excessive 
labor a breastwork was thrown up, four hundred yards dis- 
tant from the walls, and opposite to the gate of St. Louis, 
which is nearly in the center. It was formed of gabions, 
ranged side by side, and filled with snow, over which water 
was thrown until thoroughly frozen. Here Captain Lamb 
mounted five light pieces and a howitzer. Several mortars 
were placed in the suburbs of St. Roque, which extends on 
the left of the promontory, below the heights, and nearly 
on a level with the river. 

From the **Ice Battery," Captain Lamb opened a well- 
sustained and well-directed fire upon the walls, but his field- 
pieces were too light to be effective. With his howitzer he 
threw shells into the town and set it on fire in several places. 
For five days and nights the garrison was kept on the alert 
by the teasing fire of this battery. The object of Mont- 
gomery was to harass the town, and increase the dissatis- 
faction of the inhabitants. His flag of truce being still fired 
upon, he caused the Indians in his camp to shoot arrows into 
the town, having letters attached to them, addressed to the 
inhabitants, representing Carleton's refusal to treat, and 
advising them to rise in a body and compel him. It was 
all in vain ; whatever might have been the disposition of the 
inhabitants, they were completely under the control of the 
military. On the evening of the fifth day, Montgomery paid 
a visit to the ice battery. The heavy artillery from the wall 
had repaid its ineffectual fire with ample usury. The brittle 
ramparts had been shivered like glass ; several of the gun^ ^ 
had been rendered useless. Just as they arrived at the. 


28 U/or^s of U/a8l?ii>^toi> Iruip^ 

battery, a shot from the fortress dismounted one of the guns 
and disabled many of the men. A second shot immediately 
following was almost as destructive, '*This is warm work, 
sir," said Montgomery to Captain Lamb. *'It is indeed and 
certainly no place for you, sir." *'Why so, captain?" ** Be- 
cause there are enough of us here to be killed, without the 
loss of you, which would be irreparable." 

The general saw the insufficiency of the battery, and, on 
retiring, gave Captain Lamb permission to leave it whenever 
he thought proper. The veteran waited until after dark, 
when, securing all the guns, he abandoned the ruined re- 
doubt. The general in this visit was attended by Aaron 
Burr, whom he had appointed his aid-de-camp. Lamb won- 
dered that he should encumber himself with such a boy. 
The perfect coolness and self-possession with which the youth 
mingled in this dangerous scene, and the fire which sparkled 
in his eye, soon convinced Lamb, according to his own ac- 
count, that **the young volunteer was no ordinary man." * 

Nearly three weeks had been consumed in these futile 
operations. The army, ill-clothed and ill-provided, was 
becoming impatient of the rigors of a Canadian winter ; the 
term for which part of the troops had enlisted would expire 
with the year and they already talked of returning home. 
Montgomery was sadly conscious of the insufficiency of his 
means; still he could not endure the thoughts of retiring 
from before the place without striking a blow. He knew 
that much was expected from him, in consequence of his 
late achievements, and that the eyes of the public were fixed 
upon this Canadian enterprise. He determined, therefore, 
to attempt to carry the place by escalade. One-third of his 

* Life of John Lamb, p. 125. 

Cife of \JJzBlf)\T)<^tOT) 29 

men were to set fire to the houses and stockades of the 
suburb of St. Roque, and force the barriers of the lower 
town ; while the main body should scale the bastion of Cape 

It was a hazardous, almost a desperate project, yet it has 
met with the approbation of military men. He calculated 
upon the devotion and daring spirit of his men, upon the 
discontent which prevailed among the Canadians, and upon 
the incompetency of the garrison for the defense of such 
extensive works. 

In regard to the devotion of his men, he was threatened 
with disappointment. When the plan of assault was sub- 
mitted to a council of war, three of the captains in Arnold's 
division, the terms of whose companies were near expiring, 
declined to serve, unless they and their men could be trans- 
ferred to another command. This almost mutinous move- 
ment, it is supposed, was fomented by Arnold's old adver- 
sary. Major Brown, and it was with infinite difficulty 
Montgomery succeeded in overcoming it. 

The ladders were now provided for the escalade^ and 
Montgomery waited with impatience for a favorable night 
to put it into execution. Smallpox and desertion had reduced 
his little army to seven hundred and fifty men. From cer- 
tain movements of the enemy, it was surmised that the 
deserters had revealed his plan. He changed, therefore, 
the arrangement. Colonel Livingston was to make a false 
attack on the gate of St. John's, and set fire to it; Major 
Brown, with another detachment, was to menace the bastion 
of Cape Diamond. Arnold, with three hundred and fifty 
of the hardy fellows who had followed him through the 
wilderness, strengthened by Captain Lamb and forty of his 
company, was to assault the suburbs and batteries of St. 

30 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi) IruiQ^ 

Roque; while Montgomery, with the residue of his forces, 
was to pass below the bastion at Cape Diamond, defile along 
the river, carry the defenses at Drummond's Wharf, and 
thus enter the lower town on one side, while Arnold forced 
his way into it on the other. These movements were all to 
be made at the same time, on the discharge of signal rockets ; 
thus distracting the enemy, and calling their attention to 
four several points. 

On the 31st of December, at two o'clock in the morning, 
the troops repaired to their several destinations, under cover 
of a violent snowstorm. By some accident or mistake, such 
as is apt to occur in complicated plans of attack, the signal 
rockets were let ofiP before the lower divisions had time to 
get to their fighting ground. They were descried by one 
of Maclean's Highland officers, who gave the alarm. Liv- 
ingston, also, failed to make the false attack on the gate of 
St. John's, which was to have caused a diversion favorable 
to Arnold's attack on the suburb below. 

The feint by Major Brown, on the bastion of Cape Dia- 
mond, was successful, and concealed the march of General 
Montgomery. That gallant commander descended from the 
heights to Wolfe's Cove, and led his division along the shore 
of the St. Lawrence, round the beetling promontory of Cape 
Diamond. The narrow approach to the lower town in that 
direction was traversed by a picket or stockade, defended by 
Canadian militia; beyond which was a second defense, a 
kind of block-house, forming a battery of small pieces, 
manned by Canadian militia, and a few seamen, and com- 
manded by the captain of a transport. The aim of Mont- 
gomery was to come upon these barriers by surprise. The 
pass which they defended is formidable at all times, having 
a swift river on one side and overhanging precipices on the 

Cife of U/asl^ip^tor) 81 

other; but at this time was rendered peculiarly difficult by 
drifting snow, and by great masses of ice piled on each other 
at the foot of the cliffs. 

The troops made their way painfully, in extended and 
straggling files, along the narrow footway, and over the 
slippery piles of ice. Among the foremost were some of 
the first New York regiment, led on by Captain Chesseman. 
Montgomery, who was familiar with them, urged them on. 
** Forward, men of New York!" cried he. "You are not the 
men to flinch when your general leads you on!" 

In his eagerness, he threw himself far in the advance, 
with his pioneers and a few officers, and made a dash at the 
first barrier. The Canadians stationed there, taken by sur- 
prise, made a few random shots, then threw down their 
muskets and fled. Montgomery sprang forward, aided with 
his own hand to pluck down the pickets, which the pioneers 
were sawing, and having made a breach sufficiently wide to 
admit three or four men abreast, entered sword in hand, 
followed by his staff. Captain Cheeseman, and some of his 
men. The Canadians had fled from the picket to the bat- 
tery or block-house, but seemed to have carried the panic 
with them, for the battery remained silent. Montgomery 
felt for a moment as if the surprise had been complete. He 
paused in the breach to rally on the troops, who were stum- 
bling along the difficult pass. *'Push on, my brave boys," 
cried he, "Quebec is ours!" 

He again dashed forward, but, when within forty paces 
of the battery, a discharge of grapeshot from a single cannon 
made deadly havoc. Montgomery and McPherson, one of 
his aides, were killed on the spot. Captain Cheeseman, who 
was leading on his New Yorkers, received a canister shot 
through the body; made an effort to rise and push forward, 

32 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^toi) Irufp^ 

but fell back a corpse ; with him fell his orderlj' sergeant and 
several of his men. 

This fearful slaughter, and the death of their general, 
threw everything in confusion. The officer next in lineal 
rank to the general was far in the rear; in this emergency, 
Colonel Campbell, quartermaster-general, took the command, 
but, instead of rallying the men, and endeavoring to effect 
the junction with Arnold, ordered a retreat, and abandoned 
the half -won field, leaving behind him the bodies of the slain. 

While all this was occurring on the side of Cape Dia- 
mond, Arnold led his division against the opposite side of 
the lower town, along the suburb and street of St. Roque. 
Like Montgomery, he took the advance at the head of a 
forlorn hope of twenty-five men, accompanied by his secre- 
tary Oswald, formerly one of his captains at Ticonderoga. 
Captain Lamb and his artillery company came next, with 
a field-piece mounted on a sledge. Then came a company 
with ladders and scaling implements, followed by Morgan 
and his riflemen. In the rear of all these came the main 
body. A battery on a wharf commanded the narrow pass 
by which they had to advance. This was to be attacked 
with the field-piece, and then scaled with ladders by the for- 
lorn hope; while Captain Morgan, with his riflemen, was to 
pass round the wharf on the ice. 

The false attack which was to have been made by Living- 
ston on the gate of St. John's, by way of diversion, had not 
taken place; there was nothing, therefore, to call off the 
attention of the enemy in this quarter from the detachment. 
The troops, as they straggled along in lengthened file through 
the drifting snow, were sadly galled by a flanking fire on the 
i-ight, from walls and pickets. The field-piece at length 
became so deeply embedded in a snowdrift that it could not 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 33 

be moved. Lamb sent word to Arnold of the impedient; in 
the meantime, he and his artillery company were brought to 
a halt. The company with the scaling ladders would have 
halted also, having been told to keep in the rear of the 
artillery ; but they were urged on by Morgan with a thun- 
dering oath, who pushed on after them with his riflemen, 
the artillery company opening to the right and left to let 
them pass. 

They arrived in the advance just as Arnold was leading 
on his forlorn hope to attack the barrier. Before he reached 
it, a severe wound in the right leg with a musket ball com- 
pletely disabled him, and he had to be borne from the field. 
Morgan instantly took the command. Just then Lamb came 
up with his company, armed with muskets and bayonets, 
having received orders to abandon the field-piece and support 
the advance. Oswald joined him with the forlorn hope. 
The battery which commanded the defile mounted two pieces 
of cannon. There was a discharge of grape-shot when the 
assailants were close under the muzzles of the guns, yet but 
one man was killed. Before there could be a second dis- 
charge, the battery was carried by assault, some firing into 
the embrasures; others scaling the walls. The captain and 
thirty of his men were taken prisoners. 

The day was just dawning as Morgan led on to attack 
the second barrier, and his men had to advance under a fire 
from the town walls on their right, which incessantly thinned 
their ranks. The second barrier was reached ; they applied 
their scaling ladders to storm it. The defense was brave 
and obstinate, but the defenders were at length driven from 
their guns and the battery was gained. At the last moment 
one of the gunners ran back, linstock in hand, to give one 
more shot. Captain Lamb snapped a fusee at him. It missed 

84 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ir>^tor) Iruir7<$ 

firGo The cannon was discharged, and a grape-shot wounded 
Lamb in the head, carrying away part of the cheek-bone. 
He was borne off senseless to a neighboring shed. 

The two barriers being now taken, the way on this side 
into the lower town seemed open. Morgan prepared to enter 
it with the victorious vanguard; first stationing Captain 
Dearborn and some provincials at Palace Gate, which opened 
down into the defile from the upper town. By this time, 
however, the death of Montgomery and retreat of Campbell 
had enabled the enemy to turn all their attention in this 
direction. A large detachment sent by General Carleton 
sallied out of Palace Gate after Morgan had passed it, sur- 
prised and captured Dearborn and the guard, and completely 
cut off the advanced party. The main body, informed of 
the death of Montgomery, and giving up the game as lost, 
retreated to the camp, leaving behind the field-piece which 
Lamb's company had abandoned, and the mortars in the 
battery of St. Roque. 

Morgan and his men were now hemmed in on all sides, 
and obliged to take refuge in a stone house from the in- 
veterate fire which assailed them. From the windows of 
this house they kept up a desperate defense, until cannon 
were brought to bear upon it. Then, hearing of the death 
of Montgomery, and seeing that there was no prospect of 
relief, Morgan and his gallant handful of followers were 
compelled to surrender themselves prisoners of war. 

Thus foiled at every point, the wrecks of the little army- 
abandoned their camp and retreated about three miles from 
the town ; where they hastily fortified themselves, apprehend- 
ing a pursuit by the garrison. General Carleton, however, 
contented himself with having secured the safety of the 
place, and remained cautiously passive until he should be 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ<$tor> 35 

properly re-enforced ; distrusting the good faith of the motley- 
inhabitants. He is said to have treated the prisoners with 
a humanity the more honorable, considering the "habitual 
military severity of his temper' ' ; their heroic daring, dis- 
played in the assault upon the lower town, having excited 
his admiration. 

The remains of the gallant Montgomery received a sol- 
dier's grave, within the fortifications of Quebec, by the care 
of Cramahe, the lieutenant-governor, who had formerly 
known him. 

Arnold, wounded and disabled, had been assisted back 
to the camp, dragging one foot after the other for nearly 
a mile, in great agony, and exposed continually to the mus- 
ketry from the walls at fifty yards' distance, which shot 
down several at his side. 

He took temporary command of the shattered army, until 
General "Wooster should arrive from Montreal, to whom he 
sent an express, urging him to bring on succor. "On this 
occasion," says a contemporary writer, "he discovered the 
utmost vigor of a determined mind, and a genius full of 
resources. Defeated and wounded, as he was, he put his 
troops into such a situation as to keep them still formidable. "* 

With a mere handful of men, at one time not exceeding 
five hundred, he maintained a blockade of the strong fortress 
from which he had just been repulsed. ' ' I have no thoughts, ' ' 
writes he, "of leaving this proud town until I enter it in 
triumph. 1 am in the way of my duty, and I know no 
fear."*^ \ 

Happy for him had he fallen at this moment. Happy 

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 112. 

t See Arnold's Letter. Remembrancer, ii. 368. 

36 U/orKs of U/a8l?!r>^top /rulr)^ 

for him had he found a soldier's and a patriot's grave, be- 
neath the rock-built walls of Quebec. Those walls would 
have remained enduring monuments of his renown. His 
name, like that of Montgomery, would have been treasured 
up among the dearest though most mournful recollections 
of his country, and that country would have been spared 
the single traitorous blot that dims the bright page of its 
Revolutionary history. 


Correspondence of Washington and Schuyler on the Disasters in 
Canada— Re-enforcements required from New England — Dan- 
gers in the Interior of New York — Johnson Hall beleaguered — 
Sir John capitulates — Generous Conduct of Schuyler — Governor 
Tryon and the Tories — Tory Machinations — Lee at New York — 
Sir Henry Clinton in the Harbor — Menaces of Lee— The City 
and River fortified — Lee's Treatment of the Tories — His Plans 
of Fortification — Ordered to the Command in Canada — His 
Speculations on Titles of Dignity 

Schuyler's letter to Washington, announcing the recent 
events, was written with manly feeling. **I wish," said he, 
**I had no occasion to send my dear general this melancholy 
account. My amiable friend, the gallant Montgomery, is 
no more; the brave Arnold is wounded; and we have met 
with a severe check in an unsuccessful attempt on Quebec. 
May Heaven be graciously pleased that the misfortune may 
terminate here! I tremble for our people in Canada." 

Alluding to his recent request to retire from the army, 
he writes: **Our affairs are much worse than when I made 
the request. This is motive sufficient for me to continue to 
serve my country in any way I can be thought most service- 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tOQ 37 

able ; but my utmost can be but little, weak and indisposed 
as I am." 

Washington was deeply moved by the disastrous intelli- 
gence. **I most sincerely condole with you," writes he, in 
reply to Schuyler, **upon the fall of the brave and worthy 
Montgomery. In the death of this gentleman, America has 
sustained a heavy loss. I am much concerned for the in- 
trepid and enterprising Arnold, and greatly fear that conse- 
quences of the most alarming nature will result from this 
well-intended, but unfortunate attempt." 

General Schuyler, who was now in Albany, urged the 
necessity of an immediate re-enforcement of three thousand 
men for the army in Canada, Washington had not a man 
to spare from the army before Boston. He applied, there- 
fore, on his own responsibility, to Massachusetts, New 
Hampshire, and Connecticut, for three regiments, which 
were granted. His prompt measure received the approba- 
tion of Congress, and further re enforcements were ordered 
from the same quarters. 

Solicitude was awakened about the interior of the province 
of New York. Arms and ammunition were said to be con- 
cealed in Try on County, and numbers of the tories in that 
neighborhood preparing for hostilities. Sir John Johnson 
had fortified Johnson Hall, gathered about him his Scotch 
Highland tenants and Indian allies, and it was rumored he 
intended to carry fire and sword along the valley of the 

Schuyler, in consequence, received orders from Congress 
to take measures for securing the military stores, disarming 
the disaffected, and apprehending their chiefs. He forth- 
with hastened from Albany, at the head of a body of soldiers ; 
was joined by Colonel Herkimer, with the militia of Tryon 

38 U/or^s of U/asl7ii7($t:or> Iruip^ 

County marshaled forth on the frozen bosom of the Mohawk 
River, and appeared before Sir John's stronghold, near 
Johnstown, on the 19th of January. 

Thus beleaguered, Sir John, after much negotiation, 
capitulated. He was to surrender all weapons of war and 
military stores in his possession, and to give his parole not 
to take arms against America. On these conditions he 
was to be at Hberty to go as far westward in Tryon County 
as the German Flats and Kingsland districts, and to every 
part of the colony to the southward and eastward of these 
districts : provided he did not go into any seaport town. 

Sir John intimated a trust that he, and the gentlemen 
with him, would be permitted to retain such arms as were 
their own property. The reply was characteristic: '* General 
Schuyler's feelings as a gentleman induce him to consent 
that Sir John Johnson may retain the few favorite family 
arms, he making a list of them. General Schuyler never 
refused a gentleman his side-arms." 

The capitulation being adjusted, Schuyler ordered his 
troops to be drawn up in line at noon (Jan. 20th), between 
his quarters and the Court House, to receive the surrender 
of the Highlanders, enjoining profound silence on his officers 
and men, when the surrender should be made. Everything 
was conducted with great regard to the feelings of Sir John's 
Scottish adherents; they marched to the front, grounded 
their arms, and were dismissed with exhortations to good 

The conduct of Schuyler throughout this affair drew forth 
a resolution of Congress, applauding him for his fidelity, 
prudence and expedition, and the proper temper he had main- 
tained toward the "deluded people" in question. Washing- 
ton, too, congratulated him on his success. "I hope," writes 

Cife of U/a8l7ir)(^toi> 39 

he, ** General Lee will execute a work of the same kind on 
Long Island. It is high time to begin with our internal foes, 
when we are threatened with such severity of chastisement 
from our kind parent without." 

The recent reverses in Canada had, in fact, heightened 
the solicitude of Washington about the province of New 
York. That province was the central and all-important link 
in the confederacy ; but he feared it might prove a brittle 
one. We have already mentioned the adverse influences in 
operation there. A large number of friends to the crown, 
among the official and commercial classes; rank tories (as 
they were called), in the city and about the neighboring 
country; particularly on Long and Staten Islands; king's 
ships at anchor in the bay and harbor, keeping up a sus- 
picious intercourse with the citizens ; while Governor Try on, 
castled, as it were, on board one of these ships, carried on 
intrigues with those disaffected to the popular cause, in all 
parts of the neighborhood. County committees had been 
empowered by the New York Congress and Convention, to 
apprehend all persons notoriously disaffected, to examine 
into their conduct, and ascertain whether they were guilty 
of any hostile act or machination. Imprisonment or banish- 
ment was the penalty. The committees could call upon the 
militia to aid in the discharge of their functions. Still, dis- 
affection to the cause was said to be rife in the province, and 
Washington looked to General Lee for effective measures to 
suppress it. 

Lee arrived at New York on the 4th of February, his 
caustic humors sharpened by a severe attack of the gout, 
which had rendered it necessary, while on the march, to 
carry him for a considerable part of the way in a litter. His 
correspondence is a complete mental barometer. "I consider 

40 U/or^s of U/a5f?iQ^tor> IruiQ^ 

it as a piece of the greatest good fortune," writes he to "Wash- 
ington (Feb. 5th), *'that the Congress have detached a com- 
mittee to this place; otherwise I should have made a most 
ridiculous figure, besides bringing upon myself the enmity of 
the whole province. My hands were effectually tied up from 
taking any step necessary for the public service by the late 
resolve of Congress, putting every detachment of the Conti- 
nental forces under the command of the Provincial Congress 
where such detachment is." 

By a singular coincidence, on the very day of his arrival 
Sir Henry Clinton, with the squadron which had sailed so 
mysteriously from Boston, looked into the harbor. ''Though 
it was Sabbath," says a letter-writer of the day, "it threw 
the whole city into such a convulsion as it never knew be- 
fore. Many of the inhabitants hastened to move their effects 
into the country, expecting an immediate conflict. All that 
day and all night were there carts going and boats loading, 
and women and children crying, and distressed voices heard 
in the roads in the dead of the night." * 

Clinton sent for the mayor, and expressed much surprise 
and concern at the distress caused by his arrival ; which was 
merely, he said, on a short visit to his friend Tryon, and to 
see how matters stood. He professed a juvenile love for the 
place, and desired that the inhabitants might be informed of 
the purport of his visit, and that he would go away as soon 
as possible. 

"He brought no troops with him," writes Lee, "and 
pledges his honor that none are coming. He says it is 
merely a visit to his friend Tryon. If it is really so, it is the 
most whimsical piece of civility I ever heard of." 

* Remembrancer, vol. iii. 

Cife of U/asl;>iQ<$too 41 

A gentleman in New York, writing to a friend in Phila- 
delphia, reports one of the general's characteristic menaces 
which kept the town in a fever. 

'*Lee says he will send word on board of the men-of-war 
that, if they set a house on fire, he will chain a hundred of 
their friends by the neck, and make the house their funeral 

For this time, the inhabitants of New York were let off 
for their fears. Clinton, after a brief visit, continued his 
mysterious cruise, openly avowing his destination to be 
North Carolina — which nobody believed, simply because 
he avowed it. 

The Duke of Manchester, speaking in the House of Lords 
of the conduct of Clinton, contrasts it with that of Lord Dun- 
more, who wrapped Norfolk in flames. "I will pass no cen- 
sure on that noble lord," said he, '*but I could wish that he 
had acted with that generous spirit that forbade Clinton use- 
lessly to destroy the town of New York. My lords, Clinton 
visited New York ; the inhabitants expected its destruction. 
Lee appeared before it with an army too powerful to be at- 
tacked, and Clinton passed by without doing any wanton 

The necessity of conferring with committees at every step 
was a hard restraint upon a man of Lee's ardent and impa- 
tient temper, who had a soldierlike contempt for the men of 
peace around him ; yet at the outset he bore it better than 
might have been expected. 

"The Congress committees, a certain number of the com- 
mittees of safety, and your humble servant, ' ' writes he to 
Washington, *'have had two conferences. The result is such 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iv. 941. 

42 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir>^tor) Iruip^ 

as will agreeably surprise you. It is in the first place agreed, 
and justly, that to fortify the town against shipping is im- 
practicable ; but we are to fortify lodgments on some com- 
manding part of the city for two thousand men. We are to 
erect inclosed batteries on both sides of the water, near Hell 
Gate, which will answer the double purpose of securing the 
town against piracies through the Sound, and secure our 
communication with Long Island, now become a more im- 
portant point than ever ; as it is determined to form a strong 
fortified camp of three thousand men, on the Island, imme- 
diately opposite to New York. The pass in these Highlands 
is to be made as respectable as possible, and guarded by a 
battalion. In short, I think the plan judicious and com° 

The pass in the Highlands above alluded to is that grand 
defile of the Hudson, where, for upward of fifteen miles, it 
wends its deep channel between stern, forest-clad mountains 
and rocky promontories. Two forts, about six miles distant 
from each other, and commanding narrow parts of the river 
at its bends through the Highlands, had been commenced in 
the preceding autumn, by order of the Continental Congress ; 
but they were said to be insufficient for the security of that 
important pass, and were to be extended and strengthened. 

"Washington had charged Lee, in his instructions, to keep 
a stern eye upon the tories, who were active in New York. 
"You can seize upon the persons of the principals," said he; 
*'they must be so notoriously known that there will be little 
danger of committing mistakes." Lee acted up to the letter 
of these instructions, and weeded out with a vigorous hand 
some of the rankest of the growth. This gave great offense 
to the peace-loving citizens, who insisted that he was arro- 
gating a power vested solely in the civil authority. One of 

Cife of U/asI^irji^top 43 

them, well-affected to the cause, writes: **To see the vast 
number of houses shut up, one would think the city almost 
evacuated. Women and children are scarcely to be seen in 
the streets. Troops are daily coming in; they break open 
and quarter themselves in any house they find shut." * 

The enemy, too, regarded his measures with apprehen- 
sion. **That arch rebel Lee," writes a British officer, "has 
driven all the well- affected people from the town of New 
York. If something is not speedily done, his Britannic 
majesty's American dominions will be confined within a 
very narrow compass." f 

In the exercise of his military functions, Lee set Governor 
Try on and the captain of the *'Asia" at defiance. *'They 
had threatened perdition to the town," writes he to Wash- 
ington, **if the cannon were removed from the batteries and 
wharfs, but I ever considered their threats as a brutum fuU 
men, and even persuaded the town to be of the same way of 
thinking. We accordingly conveyed them to a place of safety 
in the middle of the day, and no cannonade ensued. Captain 
Parker publishes a pleasant reason for his passive conduct. 
He says that it was manifestly my intention, and that of the 
New England men under my command, to bring destruction 
on this town, so hated for their loyal principles, but that he 
was determined not to indulge it ; so remained quiet out of 
spite. The people here laugh at his nonsense, and begin to 
despise the menaces which formerly used to throw them into 

Washington appears to have shared the merriment. In 
his reply to Lee he writes, '*! could not avoid laughing at 
Captain Parker's reasons for not putting his repeated threats 

* Fred. Rhinelander to Peter Van Schaack, Feb. 23. 
t Am. Archives, v. 425. 

44 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir>^tor> Iruip^ 

into execution" — a proof, by the way, under his own hand, 
that he could laugh occasionally; and even when surrounded 
by perplexities. 

According to Lee's account, the New Yorkers showed a 
wonderful alacrity in removing the cannon. "Men and boys 
of all ages," writes he, ** worked "v\ath the greatest zeal and 
pleasure. I really believe the generahty are as well-affected 
as any on the continent. ' ' Some of the well-affected, how- 
ever, thought he was rather too self-willed and high-handed. 
'* Though General Lee has many things to recommend him 
as a general," writes one of them, "yet I think he was out 
of luck when he ordered the removal of the guns from the 
batter}' ; as it was without the approbation or knowledge of 
our Congress." * — Lee seldom waited for the approbation of 
Congress in moments of exigency. 

He now proceeded with his plan of defenses. A strong 
redoubt, capable of holding three hundred men, was com- 
menced at Horen's Hook, commanding the pass at Hell 
Gate, so as to block up from the enemy's ships the passage 
between the mainland and Long Island. A regiment was 
stationed on the island, making fascines and preparing other 
materials for constructing the works for an intrenched camp, 
which Lee hoped would render it impossible for the enemy to 
get a footing there. ''What to do with this city," writes he, 
''I own, puzzles me. It is so encircled with deep navigable 
water that whoever commands the sea must command the 
town. To-morrow I shall begin to dismantle that part of 
the fort next to the town, to prevent its being converted into 
a citadel. I shall barrier the principal streets, and, at least, 
if I cannot make it a Continental garrison, it shall be a dis- 

* Fred. Rhinelander to Peter Van Schaack. 

Cife of U/a&)[)iT)(^tOT) 45 

putable field of battle." Batteries were to be erected on an 
eminence behind Trinity Church, to keep the enemy's ships 
at so great a distance as not to injure the town. 

King's Bridge, at the upper end of Manhattan or New 
York Island, linking it with the mainland, was pronounced 
by Lee **a most important pass, without which the city could 
have no communication with Connecticut." It was, there- 
fore, to be made as strong as possible. 

Heavy cannon were to be sent up to the forts in the 
Highlands; which were to be enlarged and strengthened. 

In the midst of his schemes, Lee received orders from 
Congress to the command in Canada, vacant by the death 
of Montgomery. He bewailed the defenseless condition of 
the city ; the Continental Congress, as he said, not having, 
as yet, taken the least step for its security. **The instant I 
leave it," said he, *'I conclude the Provincial Congress, and 
inhabitants in general, will. relapse into their former hys- 
terics. The men-of-war and Mr. Tryon will return to their 
old station at the wharfs, and the first regiments who arrive 
from England will take quiet possession of the town and 
Long Island." 

It must be observed that, in consequence of his military 
demonstrations in the city, the enemy's ships had drawn off 
and dropped down the bay ; and he had taken vigorous meas- 
ures, without consulting the committees, to put an end to 
the practice of supplying them with provisions. 

"Governor Tryon and the *Asia,' " writes he to Wash- 
ington, *' continue between Nutten and Bedlow's Islands. 
It has pleased his Excellency, in violation of the compact 
he has made, to seize several vessels from Jersey laden with 
flour. It has, in return, pleased my Excellency to stop all 
provisions from the city, and cut off all intercourse with him 

46 U/orKs of W^sY)iT)<^tOT) Iruirj^ 

— a measure which has thrown the mayor, council and tories 
into agonies. The propensity, or rather rage, for paying 
court to this great man is inconceivable. They cannot be 
weaned from him. We must put wormwood on his paps, or 
they will cry to suck, as they are in their second childhood." 
We would observe, in explanation of a sarcasm in the 
above quoted letter, that Lee professed a great contempt for 
the titles of respect which it was the custom to prefix to the 
names of men in office or command. He scoffed at them, 
as unworthy of **a great, free, manly, equal commonwealth." 
*'For my own part," said he, '*I would as lief they would 
put ratsbane in my mouth as the Excellency with which I 
am daily crammed. How much more true dignity was there 
in the simplicity of address among the Romans : Marcus Tul- 
lius Cicero, Decius Bruto Imperatori, or Caio Marcello Con- 
sul!, than to *His Excellency Major-general Noodle,' or to 
the * Honorable John Doodle.' " 


Monotonous State of Affairs before Boston — Washington anxious 
for Action— Exploit of Putnam — Its Dramatic Ck)nsequences — 
The Farce of the Blockade of Boston — An Alarming Interrup- 
tion — Distresses of the Besieged — AYashington's Irksome Pre- 
dicament — His Bold Proposition — Demur of the Council of War 
— Arrival of Knox with Artillery — Dorchester Heights to be 
Seized and Fortified — Preparations for the Attempt 

The siege of Boston continued through the winter, with- 
out any striking incident to enliven its monotony. The Brit- 
ish remained within their works, leaving the beleaguering 
army slowly to augment its forces. The country was dis- 
satisfied with the inaction of the latter. Even Congress was 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($tOQ 47 

anxious for some successful blow that might revive popular 
enthusiasm. Washington shared this anxiety, and had re- 
peatedly, in councils of war, suggested an attack upon the 
town, but had found a majority of his general officers op- 
posed to it. He had hoped some favorable opportunity would 
present, when, the harbor being frozen, the troops might ap- 
proach the town upon the ice. The winter, however, though 
severe at first, proved a mild one, and the bay continued 
open. General Putnam, in the meantime, having completed 
the new works at Lechmere Point, and being desirous of 
keeping up the spirit of his men, resolved to treat them to 
an exploit. Accordingly, from his *' impregnable fortress'' 
of Cobble Hill, he detached a party of about two hundred, 
under his favorite officer, Major Knowlton, to surprise and 
capture a British guard stationed at Charlestown. It was a 
daring enterprise, and executed with spirit. As Charlestown 
Neck was completely protected, Knowlton led his men across 
the milldam, round the base of the hill, and immediately be- 
low the fort ; set fire to the guard-house and some buildings 
in its vicinity ; made several prisoners, and retired without 
loss; although thundered upon by the cannon of the fort. 
The exploit was attended by a dramatic effect on which Put- 
nam had not calculated. The British officers, early in the 
winter, had fitted up a theater, which was well attended by 
the troops and tories. On the evening in question, an after- 
piece was to be performed, entitled *'The Blockade of Bos- 
ton," intended as a burlesque on the patriot army which was 
beleaguering it. Washington is said to have been repre- 
sented in it as an awkward lout, equipped with a huge wig 
and a long rusty sword, attended by a country booby as or- 
derly sergeant, in rustic garb, with an old firelock seven or 
eight feet long. 

48 U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^toi) Iruip^ 

The theater was crowded, especially hy the military. 
The first piece was over and the curtain was rising for the 
farce, when a sergeant made his appearance and announced 
that 'Hhe alarm gims were firing at Charlestown, and the 
Yankees attacking Bunker's Hill." At first this was sup- 
posed to be a part of the entertainment, until General Howe 
gave the word, '^Officers, to your alarm posts." 

Great confusion ensued; every one scrambled out of the 
theater as fast as possible. There was, as usual, some shriek- 
ing and fainting of ladies; and the farce of **The Blockade 
of Boston" had a more serious than comic termination. 

The London *' Chronicle," in a sneering comment on Bos- 
ton affairs, gave Burgoyne as the author of this burlesque 
afterpiece, though perhaps unjustly. *^ General Burgoyne 
has opened a theatrical campaign, of which himself is sole 
manager, being determined to act with the Provincials on 
the defensive only. Tom Thumb has been already repre- 
sented; while, on the other hand, the Provincials are pre- 
paring to exhibit early in the spring, 'Measure for Measure. ' " 

The British officers, like all soldiers by profession, en- 
deavored to while away the time by every amusement within 
their reach ; but, in truth, the condition of the besieged town 
was daily becoming more and more distressing. The inhab- 
itants were without flour, pulse or vegetables; the troops 
were nearly as destitute. There was a lack of fuel, too, as 
well as food. The small-pox broke out, and it was necessary 
to inoculate the army. Men, women and children either left 
the city voluntarily, or were sent out of it ; yet the distress 
increased. Several houses were broken open and plundered; 
others were demolished by the soldiery for fuel. General 
Howe resorted to the sternest measures to put a stop to these 
excesses. The provost was ordered to go the rounds with 

Cife of \l/zsl:)ir)(^tOT) 49 

the hangman, and hang up the first man he should detect in 
the fact, without waiting for further proof for trial. Offend- 
ers were punished with four hundred, six hundred, and even 
one thousand lashes. The wife of a private soldier, con- 
victed of receiving stolen goods, was sentenced to one hun- 
dred lashes on her bare back, at the cart's tail, in different 
parts of the town, and an imprisonment of three months. 

Meanwhile, Washington was incessantly goaded by the 
impatient murmurs of the public, as we may judge by his 
letters to Mr. Reed. "I know the integrity of my own 
heart," writes he, on the 10th of February; '*but to declare 
it, unless to a friend, may be an argument of vanity. I 
know the unhappy predicament I stand in; I know that 
much is expected of me ; I know that, without men, without 
arms, without ammunition, without anything fit for the ac- 
commodation of a soldier, little is to be done; and, what is 
mortifying, I know that I cannot stand justified to the world 
without exposing my own weakness, and injuring the cause 
by declaring my wants; which I am determined not to do, 
further than unavoidable necessity brings every man ac- 
quainted with them. 

*'My own situation is so irksome to me at times that, if 
I did not consult the public good more than my own tran- 
quillity, I should long ere this have put everything on the 
cast of a die. So far from my having an army of twenty 
thousand men, well armed, I have been here with less than 
one-half of that number, including sick, furloughed and on 
command; and those neither armed nor clothed as they 
should be. In short, my situation has been such that I 
have been obliged to use art to conceal it from my own 
officers. ' ' 

How precious are those letters! And how fortunate that 
Vol. XIII.— ***3 

50 U/orKs of U/asl^io^top Iruip^ 

the absence of Mr. Reed from camp should have procured 
for us such confidential outpourings of Washington's heart 
at this time of its great trial. 

He still adhered to his opinion in favor of an attempt 
upon the town. He was aware that it would be attended 
with considerable loss, but believed it would be successful if 
the men should behave well. Within a few days after the 
date of this letter the bay became sufficiently frozen for the 
transportation of troops. ''This," writes he to Reed, "I 
thought, knowing the ice would not last, a favorable op- 
portunity to make an assault upon the troops in town. I 
proposed it in council ; but behold, though we had been wait- 
ing all the year for this favorable event, the enterprise was 
thought too dangerous. Perhaps it was; perhaps the irk- 
someness of my situation led me to undertake more than 
could be warranted by prudence. I did not think so, and 
I am sure yet that the enterprise, if it had been undertaken 
with resolution, must have succeeded ; vrithout it, any vrould 
fail." His proposition was too bold for the field-officers as- 
sembled in council (Feb. 16th), who objected that there was 
not force, nor arms and ammunition sufficient in camp for 
such an attempt. Washington acquiesced in the decision, it 
being almost unanimous ; yet he felt the irksomeness of his 
situation. *'To have the eyes of the whole continent," said 
he, ''fixed with anxious expectation of hearing of some great 
event, and to be restrained in every military operation for 
want of the necessary means of carrying it on, is not very 
pleasing, especially as the means used to conceal my weak- 
ness from the enemy conceal it also from our friends and add 
to their wonder. " 

In the council of war above mentioned, a cannonade and 
bombardment were considered advisable, as soon as there 

Cife of U/a8l?ii>($toi> 51 

should be a sufficiency of powder; in the meantime, piep- 
arations might be made for taking possession of Dorchester 
Heights and Noddle's Island. 

At length the camp was rejoiced by the arrival of Colonel 
Knox, with his long train of sledges drawn by oxen, bring- 
ing more than fifty cannon, mortars and howitzers, besides 
supplies of lead and flints. The zeal and perseverance which 
he had displayed in his wintry expedition across frozen lakes 
and snowy wastes, and the intelligence with which he had 
fulfilled his instructions, won him the entire confidence of 
Washington. His conduct in this enterprise was but an ear- 
nest of that energy and ability which he displayed through- 
out the war. 

Further ammunition being received from the royal arsenal 
at New York and other quarters, and a re-enforcement of ten 
regiments of militia, Washington no longer met with opposi- 
tion to his warlike measures. Lechmere Point, which Put- 
nam had fortified, was immediately to be supplied with mor- 
tars and heavy cannon, so as to command Boston on the 
north ; and Dorchester Heights, on the south of the town, 
were forthwith to be taken possession of. "If anything," 
said Washington, ''will induce the enemy to hazard an en- 
gagement, it will be our attempting to fortify those heights, 
as, in that event taking place, we shall be able to command 
a great part of the town and almost the whole harbor." 
Their possession, moreover, would enable him to push his 
works to Nook's Hill and other points opposite Boston, 
whence a cannonade and bombardment must drive the 
enemy from the city. 

The council of Massachusetts, at his request, ordered the 
militia of the towns contiguous to Dorchester and Roxbury 
to hold themselves in readiness to repair to the lines at those 

52 U/orl^8 of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 

places with arms, ammunition and accouterments on receiv- 
ing a preconcerted signal. 

Washington felt painfully aware how much depended 
upon the success of this attempt. There was a cloud of 
gloom and distrust lowering upon the public mind. Danger 
threatened on the north and on the south. Montgomery had 
fallen before the walls of Quebec. The army in Canada was 
shattered. Try on and the tories were plotting mischief in 
New York. Dunmore was harassing the lower part of Vir- 
ginia, and Clinton and his fleet were prowling along the 
coast on a secret errand of mischief. 

"Washington's general orders evince the solemn and anx- 
ious state of his feelings. In those of the 26th of February, 
he forbade all playing at cards and other games of chance. 
*'At this time of public distress,'' writes he, *'men may find 
enough to do in the service of God and their country without 
abandoning themselves to vice and immorality. ... It is 
a noble cause we are engaged in; it is the cause of virtue 
and mankind ; every advantage and comfort to us and our 
posterity depend upon the vigor of our exertions ; in short, 
freedom or slavery must be the result of our conduct ; there 
can, therefore, be no greater inducement to men to behave 
well. But it may not be amiss to the troops to know that if 
any man in action shall presume to skulk, hide himself, or 
retreat from the enemy without the orders of his command- 
ing officer, he will be instantly shot down as an example of 
cowardice ; cowards having too frequently disconcerted the 
best formed troops by their dastardly behavior." 

In the general plan it was concerted that, should the 
enemy detach a large force to dislodge our men from Dor- 
chester Heights, as had been done in the affair of Bunker's 
Hill, an attack upon the opposite side of the town should 

Cife of U/asl7ii7(jtor) 53 

forthwith be made by General Putnam. For this purpose 
he was to have four thousand picked men in readiness, in 
two divisions, under Generals Sullivan and Greene. At a 
concerted signal from Roxbury they were to embark in boats 
near the mouth of Charles River, cross under cover of the 
fire of three floating batteries, land in two places in Boston, 
secure its strong posts, force the gates and works at the !N"eck, 
and let in the Roxbury troops. 


, The Affair of Dorchester Heights — American and English Letters 
respecting it — A Laborious Night — Revelations at Daybreak — 
Howe in a Perplexity — A Night Attack meditated — Stormy 
Weather — The Town to be evacuated — Negotiations and Ar- 
rangements — Preparations to Embark — Excesses of the Troops 
— Boston evacuated — Speech of the Duke of Manchester on the 
Subject — A Medal voted by Congress 

The evening of Monday, the 4th of March, was fixed 
upon for the occupation of Dorchester Heights. The ground 
was frozen too hard to be easily intrenched; fascines, there- 
fore, and gabions and bundles of screwed hay were collected 
during the two preceding nights with which to form breast- 
works and redoubts. During these two busy nights the 
enemy's batteries were cannonaded and bombarded from 
opposite points, to occupy their attention and prevent their 
noticing these preparations. They replied with spirit, and 
the incessant roar of artillery thus kept up covered com- 
pletely the rumbling of wagons and ordnance. 

How little the enemy were aware of what was impending 
we may gather from the following extract of a letter from 
an officer of distinction in the British army in Boston to his 
friend in London, dated on the 3d of March : 

54 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir)^toi> Iruip^ 

"For these last six weeks or near two months we have 
been better amused than could possibly be expected in our 
situation. We had a theater, we had balls, and there is 
actuaUy a subscription on foot for a masquerade. England 
seems to have forgot us, and we have endeavored to forget 
ourselves. But we were roused to a sense of our situation 
last night in a manner unpleasant enough. The rebels have 
been for some time past erecting a bomb battery, and last 
night began to play upon us. Two shells fell not far from 
me. One fell upon Colonel Monckton's house, but luckily 
did not burst until it had crossed the street. Many houses 
were damaged, but no lives lost. The rebel army," adds 
he, "is not brave, I beheve, but it is agreed on all hands that 
their artillery officers are at least equal to ours." * 

The wife of John Adams, who resided in the vicinity of 
the American camp, and knew that a general action was 
meditated, expresses in a letter to her husband the feehngs 
of a patriot woman during the suspense of these nights. 

"I have been in a constant state of anxiety since you left 
me," writes she on Saturday. "It has been said to-morrow, 
and to-morrow for this month, and when the dreadful to- 
morrow will be, I know not. But hark! The house this 
instant shakes with the roar of cannon. I have been to the 
door, and find it is a cannonade from our army. Orders, I 
find, are come, for all the remaining militia to repair to the 
lines Monday night by twelve o'clock. No sleep for me 

On Sunday the letter is resumed. "I went to bed after 
twelve, but got no rest; the cannon continued firing, and 
my heart kept pace with them all night. "We have had a 

Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 425. 

Cife of U/asI^iQ^top 65 

pretty quiet day, but what to-morrow will bring forth God 
only knows." On Monday, the appointed evening, she con- 
tinues: '*I have just returned from Penn's Hill, where I 
have been sitting to hear the amazing roar of cannon, and 
from whence I could see every shell which was thrown. 
The sound, I think, is one of the grandest in nature, and is 
of the true species of the sublime. 'Tis now an incessant 
roar ; but oh, the fatal ideas which are connected with the 
sound ! How many of our dear countrymen must fall ! 

**I went to bed about twelve, and rose again a little after 
one. I could no more sleep than if I had been in the engage- 
ment ; the rattling of the windows, the jar of the house, the 
continual roar of twenty-four pounders and the bursting of 
shells givs us such ideas, and realize a scene to us of which 
we could scarcely form any conception. I hope to give you 
joy of Boston, even if it is in ruins, before I send this away.'' 

On the Monday evening thus graphically described, as 
soon as the firing commenced, the detachment under Gen- 
eral Thomas set out on its cautious and secret march from 
the lines of Roxbury and Dorchester. Everything was con- 
ducted as regularly and quietly as possible. A covering 
party of eight hundred men preceded the carts with the in- 
trenching tools ; then came General Thomas with the work- 
ing party, twelve hundred strong, followed by a train of 
three hundred wagons, laden was fascines, gabions and hay 
screwed into bundles of seven or eight hundred weight. A 
great number of such bundles were ranged in a line along 
Dorchester Neck on the side next the enemy, to protect the 
troops, while passing, from being raked by the fire of the 
enemy. Fortunately, although the moon, as Washington 
writes, was shining in its full luster, the flash and roar of 
cannonry from opposite points, and the bursting of bomb- 

6Q U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^toi) IruiQ^ 

shells high in the air, so engaged and diverted the attention 
of the enemy that the detachment reached the heights about 
eight o'clock without being heard or perceived. The cover- 
ing party then divided ; one-half proceeded to the point near- 
est Boston, the other to the one nearest to Castle Williams. 
The working party commenced to fortify, under the direc- 
tions of Gridley, the veteran engineer, who had planned the 
works on Bunker's Hill. It was severe labor, for the earth 
was frozen eighteen inches deep; but the men worked with 
more than their usual spirit; for the eye of the commander- 
in-chief was upon them. Though not called there by his 
duties, Washington could not be absent from this eventful 
operation. An eloquent orator has imagined his situation — 
*'A11 around him intense movement; while nothing was to 
be heard excepting the tread of busy feet and the dull sound 
of the mattock upon the frozen soil. Beneath him the slum- 
bering batteries of the castle; the roadsteads and harbor 
filled with the vessels of the royal fleet, motionless, except 
as they swung round at their moorings at the turn of the 
midnight tide; the beleaguered city occupied with a power- 
ful army, and a considerable non-combatant population, 
startled into unnatural vigilance by the incessant and de- 
structive cannonade, yet unobservant of the great operations 
in progress so near them; the surrounding country, dotted 
with a hundred rural settlements, roused from the deep 
sleep of a New England village by the unwonted glare 
and tumult." * 

The same plastic fancy suggests the crowd of visions, 
phantoms of the past, which may have passed through 
Washington's mind on this night of feverish excitement. 

* Oration of the Hon. Edward Everett at Dorchester, 
July 4th, 1855. 

Cife of U/a8l;>iQ<$tor> 57 

**His early training in the wilderness ; his escape from drown- 
ing, and the deadly rifle of the savage in the perilous mission 
to Venango ; the shower of iron hail through which he rode 
unharmed on Braddock's field ; the early stages of the great 
conflict now brought to its crisis, and still more solemnly, 
the possibilities of the future for himself and for America — 
the ruin of the patriot cause if he failed at the outset; the 
triumphant consoUdation of the Revolution if he prevailed." 

The labors of the night were carried on by the Americans 
with their usual activity and address. When a relief party 
arrived at four o'clock in the morning, two forts were in 
sufficient forwardness to furnish protection against small- 
arms and grape-shot ; and such use was made of the fascines 
and bundles of screwed hay that, at dawn, a formidable- 
looking fortress frowned along the height. We have the 
testimony of a British officer already quoted, for the fact. 
•^'This morning at daybreak we discovered two redoubts on 
Dorchester Point, and two smaller ones on their flanks. 
They were all raised during the last night, with an expedi- 
tion equal to that of the genii belonging to Aladdin's won- 
derful lamp. From these hills they command the whole 
town, so that we must drive them from their post or desert 
the place." 

Howe gazed at the mushroom fortress with astonishment, 
as it loomed indistinctly, but grandly, through a morning fog. 
*'The rebels," exclaimed he, *'have done more work in one 
night than my whole army would have done in one month." 

Washington had watched, with intense anxiety, the effect 
of the revelation at daybreak. "When the enemy first dis- 
covered our works in the morning," writes he, "they seemed 
to be in great confusion, and, from their movements, to in- 
tend an attack." 

OS U/or^s of \JJas\}ir)<^toi) Iruio<$ 

An American, who was on Dorchester Heights, gives 
a picture of the scene. A tremendous cannonade was com- 
menced from the forts in Boston and the shipping in the 
harbor. "Cannon shot," writes he, "are continually rolling 
and rebounding over the hill, and it is astonishing to observe 
how little our soldiers are terrified by them. The royal troops 
are perceived to be in motion, as if embarking to pass the 
harbor and land on Dorchester shore to attack our works. 
The hills and elevations in this vicinity are covered with 
spectators to witness deeds of horror in the expected conflict. 
His Excellency, General Washington, is present, animating 
and encouraging the soldiers, and they in return manifest 
their joy, and express a warm desire for the approach of the 
enemy ; each man knows his own place. Our breastworks 
are strengthened, and among the means of defense are a 
great number of barrels, filled with stones and sand, and 
arranged in front of our works, which are to be put in motion 
and made to roll down the hill to break the legs of the 
assailants as they advance." 

General Thomas was re-enforced with two thousand 
men. Old Putnam stood ready to make a descent upon 
the north side of the town with his four thousand picked 
men as soon as the heights on the south should be assailed: 
**A11 the forenoon," says the American above cited, **we 
were in momentary expectation of witnessing an awful 
scene; nothing less than the carnage of Breed's Hill battle 
was expected." 

As Washington rode about the heights he reminded the 
troops that it was the 5th of March, the anniversary of the 
Boston massacre, and called on them to revenge the slaugh- 
ter of their brethren. They answered him with shouts. 
**Our officers and men," writes he, "appeared impatient for 

Cife of U/a8l>ir>^tOQ 59 

the appeal. The event I think must have been fortunate; 
nothing less than success and victory on our side." 

Howe, in the meantime, was perplexed between his pride 
and the hazards of his position. In his letters to the ministry- 
he had scouted the idea of *' being in danger from the rebels." 
He had ''hoped they would attack him." Apparently, they 
were about to fulfill his hopes, and with formidable advan- 
tages of position. He must dislodge them from Dorchester 
Heights or evacuate Boston. The latter was an alternative 
too mortifying to be readily adopted. He resolved on an 
attack, but it was to be a night one. 

*'A body of light infantry, under the command of Major 
Mulgrave, and a body of grenadiers, are to embark to-night 
at seven," writes the gay British officer already quoted. "I 
think it likely to be a general affair. Adieu balls, masquer- 
ades, etc., for this may be looked upon as the opening of the 

In the evening the British began to move. Lord Percy 
was to lead the attack. Twenty-five hundred men were 
embarked in transports, which were to convey them to the 
rendezvous at Castle Williams. A violent storm set in from 
the east. The transports could not reach their place of des- 
tination. The men-of-war could not cover and support them. 
A furious surf beat on the shore where the boats would have 
to land. The attack was consequently postponed until the 
following day. 

That day was equally unpropitious. The storm con- 
tinued, with torrents of rain. The attack was again post- 
poned. In the meantime, the Americans went on strength- 
ening their works; by the time the storm subsided General 
Howe deemed them too strong to be easily carried; the at- 
tempt, therefore, was relinquished altogether. 

30 U/orl^s of U/a8l7i9^tor> Iruir?^ 

What was to be done? The shells thrown from the 
heights into the town proved that it was no longer tenable. 
The fleet was equally exposed. Admiral Shuldham, the 
successor to Graves, assured Howe that if the Americans 
maintained possession of the heights his ships could not re- 
main in the harbor. . It was determined, therefore, in a 
council of war, to evacuate the place as soon as possible. 
But now came on a humiliating perplexity. The troops, in 
embarking, would be exposed to a destructive fire. How 
was this to be prevented? General Howe's pride would not 
suffer him to make capitulations; he endeavored to work on 
the fears of the Bostonians by hinting that if his troops were 
molested while embarking he might be obliged to cover their 
retreat by setting fire to the town. 

The hint had its effect. Several of the principal in- 
habitants communicated with him through the medium of 
General Robertson. The result of the negotiation was that 
^ paper was concocted and signed by several of the ** select- 
men" of Boston, stating the fears they had entertained of 
the destruction of the place, but that those fears had been 
quieted by General Howe's declaration that it should remain 
uninjured provided his troops were unmolested while em- 
barking; the selectmen, therefore, begged "some assurances 
that so dreadful a calamity might not be brought on by any 
measures from without." 

This paper was sent out from Boston on the evening of 
the 8th, with a flag of truce, which bore it to the American 
lines at Roxbury. There it was received by Colonel Learned 
and carried by him to headquarters. Washington consulted 
with such of the general officers as he could immediately 
assemble. The paper was not addressed to him, nor to any 
one else. It was not authenticated by the signature of Gen- 

Cife of U/a8lpi9<$tOQ 61 

eral Howe ; nor was there any other act obliging that com- 
mander to fulfill the promise asserted to have been made 
by him. It was deemed proper, therefore, that Washington 
should give no answer to the paper ; but that Colonel Learned 
should signify, in a letter, his having laid it before the com- 
mander-in-chief, and the reasons assigned for not answer- 
ing it. 

With this uncompromising letter, the flag returned to 
Boston. The Americans suspended their fire, but continued 
to fortify their positions. On the night of the 9th a detach- 
ment was sent to plant a battery on Nook's Hill, an emi- 
nence at Dorchester, which lies nearest to Boston Neck. A 
fire kindled behind the hill revealed the project. It provoked 
a cannonade from the British, which was returned with in- 
terest from Cobble Hill, Lechmere Point, Cambridge, and 
Roxbury. The roar of cannonry and bursting of bombshells 
prevailed from half after eight at night until six in the morn- 
ing. It was another night of terror to the people of Boston ; 
but the Americans had to desist for the present from the 
attempt to fortify Nook's Hill. Among the accidents of 
the bombardment was the bursting of Putnam's vaunted 
mortar, **the Congress." 

Daily preparations were now made by the enemy for 
departure. By proclamation, the inhabitants were ordered 
to deliver up all linen and woolen goods, and all other goods 
that, in possession of the rebels, would aid them in carrying 
on the war. Crean Bush, a New York tory, was authorized 
to take possession of such goods, and put them on board of 
two of the transports. Under cover of his commission he 
and his myrmidons broke open stores and stripped them 
of their contents. Marauding gangs from the fleet and 
army followed their example, and extended their depreda- 

6!^ U/orl^s of Wa&^iY)<^tOT) Irvir)<$ 

tions to private houses. On the 14th, Howe, in a general 
order, declared that the first soldier caught plundering should 
be hanged on the spot. Still on the 16th houses were broken 
open, goods destroyed, and furniture defaced by the troops. 
Some of the furniture, it is true, belonged to the ofi&cers, 
and was destroyed because they could neither sell it nor 
carry it away. 

The letter of a British officer gives a lively picture of the 
hurried preparations for retreat. "Our not being burdened 
with provisions permitted us to save some stores and am- 
munition, the light field-pieces, and such things as were most 
convenient of carriage. The rest, I am sorry to say, we 
were obliged to leave behind; such of the guns as by dis- 
mounting we could throw into the sea was so done. The 
carriages were disabled, and every precaution taken that our 
circumstances would permit; for our retreat was by agree- 
ment. The people of the town who were friends to govern- 
ment took care of nothing but their merchandise, and found 
means to employ the men belonging to the transports in 
embarking their goods, so that several of the vessels were 
entirely filled with private property, instead of the king's 
stores. By some unavoidable accident, the medicines, sur- 
geons' chests, instruments and necessaries were left in the 
hospital. The confusion unavoidable to such a disaster will 
make you conceive how much must be forgot where every 
man had a private concern. The necessary care and distress 
of the women, children, sick, and wounded, required every 
assistance that could be given. It was not like breaking up 
a camp, where every man knows his duty ; it was like depart- 
ing your country with your wives, your servants, your house- 
hold furniture, and all your encumbrances. The officers, 
who felt the disgrace of their retreat, did their utmost to 

Cife of U/a8l;>ii7($(:oo 63 

keep up appearances. The men, who thought they were 
changing for the better, strove to take advantage of the 
present times and were kept from plunder and drink with 

For some days the embarkation of the troops was delayed 
by adverse winds. Washington, who was imperfectly in- 
formed of affairs in Boston, feared that the movements there 
might be a feint. Determined to bring things to a crisis, 
he detached a force to Nook's Hill on Saturday, the 16th, 
which threw up a breastwork in the night, regardless of the 
cannonading of the enemy. This commanded Boston Neck 
and the south part of the town, and a deserter brought a 
false report to the British that a general assault was intended. 

The embarkation, so long delayed, began with hurry and 
confusion at four o'clock in the morning.. The harbor of Bos- 
ton soon presented a striking and tumultuous scene. There 
were seventy-eight ships and transports casting loose for sea, 
and eleven or twelve thousand men, soldiers, sailors, and 
refugees, hurrying to embark ; many, especially of the latter, 
with their families and personal effects. The refugees, in 
fact, labored under greater disadvantages than the king's 
troops, being obliged to man their own vessels, as sufficient 
seamen could not be spared from the king's transports. 
Speaking of those **who had taken upon themselves the 
style and title of government men" in Boston, and acted an 
unfriendly part in this great contest, Washington observes : 
"By all accounts there never existed a more miserable set of 
beings than these wretched creatures now are. Taught 
to believe that the power of Great Britain was superior to 
all opposition, and that foreign aid, if not, was at hand, they 

* Remembrancer, vol. iii., p. 108. 

64 U/orl^8 of Was\)\r)(^tOT) Iruir}^ 

were even higher and more insulting in their opposition than 
the Regulars. When the order issued, therefore, for em- 
barking the troops in Boston, no electric shock — no sudden 
clap of thunder — in a word, the last trump could not have 
struck them with greater consternation. They were at their 
wits' end, and, conscious of their black ingratitude, chose 
to commit themselves, in the manner I have above described, 
to the mercy of the waves at a tempestuous season, rather 
than meet their offended countrymen." * 

While this tumultuous embarkation was going on, the 
Americans looked on in silence from their batteries on Dor- 
chester Heights, without firing a shot. "It was lucky for 
the inhabitants now left in Boston that they did not, ' ' writes 
a British officer; *'for I am informed everything was pre- 
pared to set the town in a blaze, had they fired one cannon. " f 

At an early hour of the morning the troops stationed at 
Cambridge and Roxbury had paraded, and several regiments 
under Putnam had embarked in boats and dropped down 
Charles River to Se wall's Point, to watch the movements 
of the enemy by land and water. About nine o'clock a large 
body of troops were seen marching down Bunker's Hill, 
while boats full of soldiers were putting off for the shipping. 
Two scouts were sent from the camp to reconnoiter. The 
works appeared still to be occupied, for sentries were posted 
about them with shouldered muskets. Observing them to 
be motionless, the scouts made nearer scrutiny, and discov- 
ered them to be mere effigies, set up to delay the advance 
of the Americans. Pushing on, they found the works de- 

* Letter to John A. Washington, Am. Arch., 4th Series, 
V. 560. 

t Frothingham, Siege of Boston, p. 310. 

Cife of \lf^B,l[)ir)<^tOT) 65 

serted, and gave signal of the fact; whereupon, a detach- 
ment was sent from the camp to take possession. 

Part of Putnam's troops were now sent back to Cam- 
bridge; a part were ordered forward to occupy Boston. 
General Ward, too, with five hundred men, made his way 
from Roxbury, across the Neck, about which the enemy had 
scattered caltrops, or crow's feet,* to impede invasion. The 
gates were unbarred and thrown open, and the Americans 
entered in triumph, with drums beating and colors flying. 

By ten o'clock the enemy were all embarked and under 
way : Putnam had taken command of the city and occupied 
the important points, and the flag of thirteen stripes, the 
standard of the Union, floated above all the forts. 

On the following day Washington himself entered the 
town, where he was joyfully welcomed. He beheld around 
him sad traces of the devastation caused by the bombard- 
ment, though not to the extent that he had apprehended. 
There were evidences, also, of the haste with which the 
British had retreated — five pieces of ordnance with their 
trunnions knocked off ; others hastily spiked ; others thrown 
off the wharf. "General Howe's retreat," writes Washing- 
ton, **was precipitate beyond anything I could have con- 
ceived. The destruction of the stores at Dunbar's camp, 
after Braddock's defeat, was but a faint image of what may 
be seen in Boston; artillery carts cut to pieces in one place, 
gun carriages in another; shells broke here, shots buried 
there, and everything carrying with it the face of disorder 
and confusion, as also of distress." f 

To add to the mortification of General Howe, he received, 

* Iron balls, with four sharp points, to wound the feet 
of men or horses. 

t Lee's Memoirs, p. 162. 

66 U/or^8 of U/ast^ip^toi) IruiQ^ 

we are told, while sailing out of the harbor, dispatches from 
the ministry, approving the resolution he had so strenuously 
expressed of maintaining his post until he should receive 
re -enforcements. 

As the smallpox prevailed in some parts of the town, pre- 
cautions were taken by Washington for its purification ; and 
the main body of the army did not march in until the 20th. 
'^The joy manifested in the countenance of the inhabitants,'' 
says an observer, "was overcast by the melancholy gloom 
caused by ten tedious months of siege"; but when, on the 
22d, the people from the country crowded into the town, *4t 
was truly interesting," writes the same observer, **to wit- 
ness the tender interviews and fond embraces of those who 
had been long separated under circumstances so peculiarly 
distressing." * 

Notwithstanding the haste with which the British army 
was embarked, the fleet lingered for some days in Nantucket 
Road. Apprehensive that the enemy, now that their forces 
were collected in one body, might attempt by some blow to 
retrieve their late disgrace, Washington hastily threw up 
works on Fort Hill, which commanded the harbor, • and de- 
molished those which protected the town from the neighbor- 
ing country. The fleet at length disappeared entirely from 
the coast, and the deliverance of Boston was assured. 

The eminent services of Washington throughout this 
arduous siege, his admirable management, by which, *'in 
the course of a few months, an undisciplined band of hus- 
handmen became soldiers, and were enabled to invest, for 
nearly a year, and finally to expel a brave army of veterans, 
commanded by the most experienced generals," drew forth 

* Thacher's Military Journal, p. 50. 

Cife of ll/asl7io($too 67 

the enthusiastic applause of the nation. No higher illustra- 
tion of this great achievement need be given than the sum- 
mary of it contained in the speech of a British statesman, 
the Duke of Manchester, in the House of Lords. "The army 
of Britain," said he, * 'equipped with every possible essential 
of war ; a chosen army, with chosen officers, backed by the 
power of a mighty fleet, sent to correct revolted subjects; 
sent to chastise a resisting city; sent to assert Britain's 
authority — has for many tedious months been imprisoned 
within that town by the Provincial army ; who, with their 
watchful guards, permitted them no inlet to the country; 
who braved all their efforts, and defied all their skill and 
ability in war could ever attempt. One way, indeed, of 
escape, was left ; the fleet is yet respected ; to the fleet the 
army has recourse ; and British generals, whose name never 
met with a blot of dishonor, are forced to quit that town 
which was the first object of the war, the immediate cause 
of hostilities, the place of arms which has cost this nation 
more than a million to defend." 

We close this eventful chapter of "Washington's history 
with the honor decreed to him by the highest authority of 
his country. On motion of John Adams, who had first 
moved his nomination as commander-in-chief, a unanimous 
vote of thanks to him was passed in Congress ; and it was 
ordered that a gold medal be struck, commemorating the 
evacuation of Boston, bearing the e^gy of Washington as 
its deliverer. 

68 U/orKs of U/a8l?ii7^t:or) Iruir)^ 


Destination of the Fleet — Commission of the two Howes — Char- 
acter of Lord Howe — The Colonies divided into Departments — 
Lee assigned to the Southern Department — General Thomas to 
Canada — Character of Lee, b^' Washington — Letters of Lee from 
the South — A Dog in a Dancing School — Committee of Safety in 
Virginia — Lee's Grenadiers — Putnam in Command at New York 
— State of Affairs there — Arrival of Washington — New Arrange- 
ments — Perplexities with respect to Canada — England subsidizes 
Hessian troops 

The British fleet bearing the army from Boston had dis- 
appeared from the coast. "Whither they are bound, and 
where they next will pitch their tents," writes Washington, 
**I know not." He conjectured their destination to be New 
York, and made his arrangements accordingly ; but he was 
mistaken. General Howe had steered for Halifax, there to 
await the arrival of strong re-enforcements from England, 
and the fleet of his brother, Admiral Lord Howe, who was 
to be commander-in-chief of the naval forces on the North 
American station. 

It was thought these brothers would co-operate ad- 
mirably in the exercise of their relative functions on land 
and water. Yet they were widely different in their habits 
and dispositions. Sir William, easy, indolent, and self- 
indulgent, *' hated business," we are told, *'and never did 
any. Lord Howe loved it, dwelt upon it, never could leave 
it." Besides his nautical commands, he had been treasurer 
of the navy, member of the board of admiralty, and had 
held a seat in Parliament; where, according to Walpole, he 

Cife of \JJzs\)iT)<^tOT) 69 

was *' silent as a rock," excepting when naval affairs were 
under discussion; when he spoke briefly and to the point. 
**My Lord Howe," said George II., ''your Hfe has been a 
continued series of services to your country. ' ' He was now 
about fifty- one years of age, tall, and well-proportioned like 
his brother; but wanting his ease of deportment. His com- 
plexion was dark, his countenance grave and strongly 
marked, and he had a shy reserve, occasionally mistaken 
for haughtiness. As a naval ojfificer, he was esteemed reso- 
lute and enterprising, yet cool and firm. In his younger 
days he had contracted a friendship for Wolfe; "it was like 
the union of cannon and gunpowder," said Walpole. Howe, 
strong in mind, solid in judgment, firm of purpose, was said 
to be the cannon; Wolfe, quick in conception, prompt in 
execution, impetuous in action — the gunpowder.* The 
bravest man, we are told, could not wish for a more able 
or more gallant commander than Howe, and the sailors used 
to say of him, ' ' Give us Black Dick, and we fear nothing. ' * 

Such is his lordship's portrait as sketched by English 
pencils; we shall see hereafter how far his conduct conforms 
to it. At present we must consider the state of the American 
army, in the appointment and commands of which various 
changes had recently taken place. 

It was presumed the enemy, in the ensuing campaign, 
would direct their operations against the Middle and Southern 
colonies. Congress divided those colonies into two depart- 
ments; one, comprehending New York, New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, Delaware and Maryland, was to be under the com- 
mand of a major-general and two brigadier-generals; the 
other, comprising Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, to 

'^ Barrow's Life of Earl Howe, p. 400. 

70 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir)($t:oi) Iruii)^ 

be under the command of a major-general and four briga- 

In this new arrangement, the orders destining General 
Lee to Canada were superseded, and he was appointed to 
the command of the Southern department, where he was 
to keep watch upon the movements of Sir Henry Clinton. 
He was somewhat dissatisfied with the change in his destina- 
tion. '*As I am the only general officer on the continent," 
writes he to Washington, ''who can speak or think in French, 
I confess I think it would have been more prudent to have 
sent me to Canada; but I shall obey with alacrity, and I 
hope with success." 

In reply, Washington observes, ''I was just about to 
congratulate you on your appointment to the command in 
Canada when I received the account that your destination 
was altered. As a Virginian, I must rejoice at the change, 
but, as an American, I think you would have done more 
essential service to the common cause in Canada. For, be- 
sides the advantage of speaking and thinking in French, an 
officer who is acquainted with their manners and customs, 
and has traveled in their countr\^, must certainly take the 
strongest hold of their affection and confidence." 

The command in Canada was given to General Thomas, 
who had distinguished himself at Roxbury, and was pro- 
moted to the rank of major-general. It would have been 
given to Schuyler, but for the infirm state of his health ; still 
Congress expressed a reliance on his efforts to complete the 
work ''so conspicuously begun and well conducted" under 
his orders in the last campaign ; and as not merely th^ suc- 
cess but the very existence of the army in Canada would 
depend on supplies sent from these colonies across the lakes, 
he was required, until further orders, to fix his headquarters 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 7l 

at Albany, where, without being exposed to the fatigue of 
the camp until his health was perfectly restored, he would 
be in a situation to forward supplies; to superintend the 
operations necessary for the defense of New York and the 
Hudson River, and the affairs of the whole middle depart- 

Lee set out for the South on the 7th of March, carrying 
with him his bold spirit, his shrewd sagacity, and his whim- 
sical and splenetic humors. The following admirably im- 
partial sketch is given of him by Washington, in a letter 
to his brother Augustine: '^He is the first in military knowl- 
edge and experience we have in the whole army. He is 
zealously attached to the cause; honest and well-meaning, 
but rather fickle and violent, I fear, in his temper. How- 
ever, as he possesses an uncommon share of good sense and 
spirit, I congratulate my countrymen on his appointment to 
that department." * 

We give by anticipation a few passages from Lee's let- 
ters, illustrative of his character and career. The news of 
the evacuation of Boston reached him in Virginia. In a 
letter to Washington, dated Williamsburg, April 5, he ex- 
presses himself on the subject with generous warmth. *'My 
dear general," writes he, **I most sincerely congratulate 
you; I congratulate the public on the great and glorious 
event, your possession of Boston. It will be a most bright 
page in the annals of America, and a most abominable black 
one in those of the beldam Britain. Go on, my dear gen- 
eral ; crown yourself with glory, and establish the liberties 
and luster of your country on a foundation more permanent 
than the Capitol Rock." 

* Force's Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 562. 

72 U/orl^8 of U/ast^io^tor) Iruii}^ 

Then reverting to himseK, his subacid humors work up, 
and he shows that he had been as much annoyed in Williams- 
burg, by the interference of committees, as he had been in 
New York. *'My situation," writes he, **is just as I ex- 
pected. I am afraid I shall make a shabby figure, without 
any real demerits of my own. I am like a dog in a dancing- 
school ; I know not where to turn myself, where to fix my- 
self. The circumstances of the country, intersected with 
navigable rivers; the imcertainty of the enemy's designs and 
motions, who can fly in an instant to any spot they choose, 
with their canvas wings, throw me, or would throw Julius 
Caesar, into this inevitable dilemma; I may possibly be in 
the north, when, as Richard says, I should serve my sover- 
eign in the west. I can only act from surmise, and have 
a very good chance of surmising wrong. I am sorry to 
grate your ears "vvith a truth, but must, at all events, assure 
you that the Provincial Congress of New York are angels 
of decision when compared with your countrymen, the com- 
mittee of safety assembled at Williamsburg. Page, Lee, 
Mercer, and Payne, are, indeed, exceptions; but from Pen- 
dleton, Bland, the Treasurer, and Co. — Libera nos doraineP^ 

Lee's letters from Virginia, written at a later date, were 
in a better humor. *' There is a noble spirit in this province 
pervading all orders of men ; if the same becomes universal, 
we shall be saved. I am, fortunately for my own happiness, 
and, I think, for the well-being of the commimity, on the 
best terms with the senatorial part, as well as the people at 
large. I shall endeavor to preserve their confidence and 
good opinion." * 

And in a letter to Washington : 

*'I have formed two companies of grenadiers to each 

* Force's Am. Archives, 4-th Series, v. 792. 

Cife of U/a8l?ir>($tor) 73 

regiment, and with spears thirteen feet long. Their rifles 
(for they are all riflemen) sling over their shoulders, their 
appearance is formidable, and the men are conciliated to the 
weapon. ... I am likewise furnishing myself with four- 
ounced rifled amusettes, which will carry an infernal dis- 
tance ; the two-ounced hit a half sheet of paper at five hun- 
dred yards' distance." 

On Lee's departure for the South, Brigadier-general Lord 
Stirling had remained in temporary command at New 
York. Washington, however, presuming that the British 
fleet had steered for that port with the force which had 
evacuated Boston, hastened detachments thither under 
Generals Heath and Sullivan, and wrote for three thou- 
sand additional men to be furnished by Connecticut. The 
command of the whole he gave to General Putnam, who 
was ordered to fortify the city and the passes of the 
Hudson, according to the plans of General Lee. In the 
meantime, Washington delayed to come on himself until 
he should have pushed forward the main body of his army 
by divisions. 

Lee's anticipations that laxity and confusion would pre- 
vail after his departure were not realized. The veteran 
Putnam, on taking command, put the city under rigorous 
military rule. The soldiers were to retire to their barracks 
and quarters at the beating of the tattoo, and remain there 
until the reveille in the morning. The inhabitants were 
subjected to the same rule. None were permitted to pass 
a sentry without the countersign, which would be furnished 
to them on applying to any of the brigade majors. All com- 
munication between the ** ministerial fleet" and the shore 
was stopped; the ships were no longer to be furnished with 
provisions. Any person taken in the act of holding com- 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 4 

74 U/'orl^s of \JJasY^iT)<^tOT) h'viT)(^ 

munication with them would be considered an enemy and 
treated accordingly. 

We have a lively picture of the state of the city in letters 
written at the time, and already cited. "When you are in- 
formed that New York is deserted by its old inhabitants and 
filled with soldiers from New England, Philadelphia, Jersey, 
etc., you will naturally conclude the environs of it are not 
very safe from so undisciplined a multitude as our Provin- 
cials are represented to be ; but I do believe there are very 
few instances of so great a number of men together with so 
little mischief done by them. They have all the simplicity 
of plowmen in their manners, and seem quite strangers to 
the vices of older soldiers ; the}" have been employed in creat- 
ing fortifications in every part of the town.' . . . Gov- 
ernor Tryon loses his credit \vith the people here prodig- 
iously; he has lately issued a proclamation, desiring the 
deluded people of this colony to return to their obedience, 
promising a speedy support to the friends of government, 
declaring a door of. mercy open to the penitent, and a rod for 
the disobedient, etc. The friends of government were pro- 
voked at being so distinguished, and the friends to liberty 
hanged him in eflSgy and printed a dying speech for him. A 
letter, too, was intercepted from him, hastening Lord Howe 
to New York, as the rebels were fortifying. These have en- 
tirely lost him the good will of the people. . . . You can- 
not think how sorry I am the governor has so lost himself, 
a man once so much beloved. Oh, Lucifer, once the son of 
morn, how fallen! General Washington is expected hourly; 
General Putnam is here, with several other generals and 
some of their ladies. . . . The variety of reports keeps 
one's mind always in agitation. Clinton and Howe have set 
the continent a-racing from Boston to Carolina. Clinton 

Cife of U/agl?ir7<^tor> 7§ 

came into our harbor: away flew the women, children, 
goods, and chattels, and in came the soldiers flocking from 
every part. No sooner was it known that he was not going 
to land here than expresses were sent to Virginia and Caro- 
lina to put them on their guard ; his next expedition was to 
Virginia ; there they were ready to receive him ; from thence, 
without attempting to land, he sailed to Carolina. Now 
General Howe is leading us another dance." * 

Washington came on by the way of Providence, Norwich 
and New London, expediting the embarkation of troops from 
these posts, and arrived at New York on the 13th of April. 
Many of the works which Lee had commenced were by this 
time finished ; others were in progress. It was apprehended 
the principal operations of the enemy would be on Long Isl- 
and, the high grounds of which in the neighborhood of 
Brooklyn commanded the city. Washington saw that an 
able and efficient officer was needed at that place. Greene 
was accordingly stationed there, with a division of the army. 
He immediately proceeded to complete the fortifications of 
that important post, and to make himself acquainted with 
the topography and the defensive points of the surrounding 

The aggregate force distributed at several extensive posts 
in New York and its environs, and on Long Island, Staten 
Island and elsewhere, amounted to little more than ten thou- 
sand men ; some of those were on the sick list, others absent 
on command, or on furlough; there were but about eight 
thousand available and fit for duty. These, too, were with- 
out pay; those recently enlisted without arms, and no one 
could say where arms were to be procured. 

* Remembrancer, vol. iii., p. 85. 

76 U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^too Iruip^ 

Washington saw the inadequacy of the force to the pur- 
pose required, and was full of solicitude about the security 
of a place, the central point of the Confederacy and the 
grand deposit of ordnance and military stores. He was 
aware, too, of the disaffection to the cause among many 
of the inhabitants, and apprehensive of treachery. The 
process of fortifying the place had induced the ships of 
war to fall down into the outer bay, within the Hook, up- 
ward of twenty miles from the city; but Governor Tryon 
was still on board of one of them, keeping up an active cor- 
respondence with the tories on Staten and Long Islands and 
in other parts of the neighborhood. 

Washington took an early occasion to address an urgent 
letter to the committee of safety, pointing out the dangerous 
and even treasonable nature of this correspondence. He had 
more weight and influence with that bod}' than had been 
possessed by General Lee, and procured the passage of a 
resolution prohibiting, under severe penalties, all intercourse 
with the king's ships. 

Headquarters, at this time, was a scene of incessant toil 
on the part of the commander-in-chief, his secretaries and 
aides-de-camp. "I give in to no kind of amusements my- 
self," writes he, '*and consequently those about me can have 
none, but are confined from morning until evening hearing 
and answering applications and letters." The presence of 
Mrs. Washington was a solace in the midst of these stern 
military cares, and diffused a feminine grace and decorum 
and a cheerful spirit over the domestic arrangements of 
headquarters, where everything was conducted with sim- 
plicity and dignity. The wives of some of the other gen- 
erals and officers rallied around Mrs. Washington, but social 
intercourse was generally at an end. '*We all live here," 

Cife of \JJ^&Y)lT)(^toT) 77 

writes a lady of New York, *'like nuns shut up in a nun- 
nery. No society with the town, for there are none there 
to visit; neither can we go in or out after a certain hour 
without the countersign." 

In addition to his cares about the security of New York, 
Washington had to provide for the perilous exigencies of the 
army in Canada. Since his arrival in the city four regi- 
ments of troops, a company of riflemen and another of arti- 
ficers had been detached under the command of Brigadier- 
general Thompson, and a further corps of six regiments 
under Brigadier-general Sullivan, with orders to join General 
Thomas as soon as possible. 

Still Congress inquired of him whether further re-enforce- 
ments to the army in Canada would not be necessary, and 
whether they could be spared from the army in New York. 
His reply shows the peculiar perplexities of his situation, and 
the tormenting uncertainty in which he was kept as to where 
the next storm of war would break. *'With respect to send- 
ing more troops to that country, I am really at a loss what 
to advise, as it is impossible at present to know the designs 
of the enemy. Should they send the whole force under Gen- 
eral Howe up the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and 
recover Canada, the troops gone and now going will be in- 
sufficient to stop their progress; and, should they think proper 
to send that, or an equal force, this way from Great Britain, 
for the purpose of possessing this city and securing the navi- 
gation of Hudson's River, the troops left here will not be 
sufficient to oppose them ; and yet, for anything we-know, I 
think it is not improbable they may attempt both ; both be- 
ing of the greatest importance to them, if they have men. I 
could wish, indeed, that the army in Canada should be more 
powerfully re-enforced ; at the same time, I am conscious 

78 U/orl^s of \i/asi7ir}<$t:oi) Iruir>^ 

that the trusting of this important post, which is now be- 
come the grand magazine of America, to the handful of men 
remaining here, is running too great a risk. The securing 
of this post and Hudson's River is to us also of so great im- 
portance that I cannot, at present, advise the sending any 
more troops from hence ; on the contrary, the general officers 
now here, whom I thought it my duty to consult, think it 
absolutely necessary to increase the army at this place with 
at least ten thousand men; especially when it is considered 
that from this place only the army in Canada must draw its 
supplies of ammunition, provisions, and most probably of 

Washington at that time was not aware of the extraordi- 
nary expedients England had recently resorted to against 
the next campaign. The Duke of Brunswick, the Land- 
grave of Hesse Cassel, and the Hereditary Prince of Cassel, 
Count of Hanau, had been subsidized to furnish troops to 
assist in the subjugation of her colonies. Four thousand 
three hundred Brunswick troops and nearly thirteen thou- 
sand Hessians had entered the British service. Besides the 
subsidy exacted by the German princes, they were to be paid 
seven pounds four shillings and fourpence sterling for every 
soldier furnished by them, and as much more for every one 

Of this notable arrangement Washington, as we ob- 
served, was not yet aware. *'The designs of the enemy," 
writes he, '*are too much behind the curtain for me to form 
any accurate opinion of their plan of operations for the sum- 
mer's campaign. We are left to wander, therefore, in the 
field of conjecture." * 

* Letter to the President of Congress, 5th May. 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ<$tor> 79 

Within a few days afterward he had vague accounts of 
** Hessians and Hanoverian troops coming over"; but it was 
not until the 17th of May, when he received letters from 
General Schuyler, inclosing others from the commanders in 
Canada, that he knew in what direction some of these bolts 
of war were lanched; and this calls for some further par- 
ticulars of the campaign on the banks of the St. Lawrence ; 
which we shall give to the reader in the ensuing chapter. 


Arnold blockades Quebec — His Difficulties — Arrival of General 
Wooster — Of General Thomas — Abortive Attempt on Quebec 
— Preparations for Retreat — Sortie of Carle ton — Retreat of the 
Americans — Halt at Point Deschambault — Alarm in the Colo- 
nies at the Retreat of the Army — Popular Clamor against 
Schuyler — Slanders Refuted 

In a former chapter, we left Arnold before the walls 
of Quebec, wounded, crippled, almost disabled, yet not dis- 
heartened; blockading that ''proud town'* with a force in- 
ferior, by half, in number to that of the garrison. For his 
gallant services Congress promoted him in January to the 
rank of brigadier-general. 

Throughout the winter he kept up the blockade with his 
shattered army ; though had Carleton ventured upon a sortie 
he might have been forced to decamp. That cautious gen- 
eral, however, remained within his walls. He was sure of 

re-enforcements from England in the spring, and, in the 


meantime, trusted to the elements of dissolution at work 
in the besieging army. 

Arnold, in truth, had difficulties of all kinds to contend 
with. His military chest was exhausted ; his troops were in 

so U/or^s of U/a8l?ir>^tor> Iruip^ 

want of necessaries; to procure supplies he was compelled 
to resort to the paper money issued by Congress, which was 
nncurrent among the Canadians; he issued a proclamation 
making the refusal to take it in payment a penal offense. 
This only produced irritation and disgust. As the terms of 
their enlistment expired, the men claimed their discharge 
and returned home. Sickness also thinned his ranks; so 
that, at one time, his force was reduced to five hundred men, 
and for two months, with all his recruitments of raw militia, 
did not exceed seven hundred. 

The failure of the attack on Quebec had weakened the 
cause among the Canadians; the peasantry had been dis- 
pleased by the conduct of the American troops; they had 
once welcomed them as deliverers; they now began to re- 
gard them as intruders. The seigneurs, or noblesse, also, 
feared to give further countenance to an invasion which, if 
defeated, might involve them in ruin. 

Notwithstanding all these discouragements, Arnold still 
kept up a bold face; cut off supplies occasionally, and har- 
assed the place with alarms. Having repaired his batteries, 
he opened a fire upon the town, but with little effect; the 
best part of the artillerists, with Lamb, their capable com- 
mander, were prisoners within the walls. 

On the 1st day of April General "Wooster arrived from 
Montreal with re-enforcements, and took the command. 
The day after his arrival Arnold, by the falling of his 
horse, again received an injury on the leg recently wounded, 
and was disabled for upward of a week. Considering him- 
self slighted by General "Wooster, who did not consult him 
in military affairs, he obtained leave of absence until he 
should be recovered from his lameness, and repaired to 
Montreal, where he took command. 

Cife of \J[/a8l?!p($toQ 81 

General Thomas arrived at the camp in the course of 
April, and found the army in a forlorn condition, scattered 
at different posts and on the Island of Orleans. It was nu- 
merically increased to upward of two thousand men, but 
several hundred were unfit for service. The small-pox had 
made great ravages. They had inoculated each other. In 
their sick and debilitated state they were without barracks, 
and almost without medicine. A portion, whose term of en- 
listment had expired, refused to do duty, and clamored for 
their discharge. 

The winter was over, the river was breaking up, re-en- 
forcements to the garrison might immediately be expected, 
and then the case would be desperate. Observing that the 
river about Quebec was clear of ice. General Thomas de- 
termined on a bold effort. It was to send up a fire-ship with 
the flood, and, while the ships in the harbor were in flames 
and the town in confusion, to scale the walls. 

Accordingly, on the 3d of May, the troops turned out 
with scaling ladders ; the fire-ship came up the river under 
easy sail, and arrived near the shipping before it was discov- 
ered. It was fired into. The crew applied a slow-match to 
the train and pulled off. The ship was soon in a blaze, but 
the flames caught and consumed the sails; her way was 
checked, and she drifted harmlessly with the ebbing tide. 
The rest of the plan was of course abandoned. 

Nothing now remained but to retreat before the enemy 
should be re-enforced Preparations were made in all haste 
to embark the sick and the military stores. While this was 
taking place, five ships made their way into the harbor on 
the 6th of May and began to land troops. Thus re-enforced, 
General Carleton sallied forth, with eight hundred or a thou- 
sand men. We quote his own letter for an account of his 

82 U/or^s of \I/a8l?ir)<$tor) Iruir)^ 

sortie. **As soon as part of the 29tli regiment, with the 
marines, in all about two hundred, were landed, they, with 
the greatest part of the garrison, by this time much im- 
proved, and in high spirits, marched out of the ports of St. 
Louis and St. John's to see what these mighty boasters were 
about. They were found very busy in their preparations for 
a retreat. A few shots being exchanged, the line marched 
forward, and the place was soon clear of these plunderers." 

By his own account, however, these "mighty boasters'* 
had held him and his garrison closely invested for five 
months; had burned the suburbs; battered the walls; 
thrown red-hot shot among the shipping; made repeated 
and daring attempts to carry the place by assault and strata- 
gem, and rendered it necessary for soldiers, sailors, marines, 
and even judges and other civil officers, to mount guard.* 
One officer declares, in a letter, that for eighty successive 
nights he slept in his clothes, to be reax3y in case of alarm. 

All this, too, was effected by a handful of men, exposed 
in open encampments to the rigors of a Canadian winter. 
If in tinith they were boasters, it must be allowed their deeds 
were equal to their words. 

The Americans were in no condition to withstand Carle- 
ton's unlooked-for attack. They had no intrenchments,'and 
could not muster three hundred men at any point. A pre- 
cipitate retreat was the consequence, in which baggage, ar- 
tillery, everything was abandoned. Even the sick were left 
behind; many of whom crawled away from the camp hos- 
pitals and took refuge in the woods, or among the Canadian 

General Carleton did not think it prudent to engage in 

* Carleton to Lord George Germaine, May 14. 

Cife of U/a8f>ip($cop §3 

a pursuit with his newly landed troops. He treated the 
prisoners with great humanity, and caused the sick to be 
sought out in their hiding-places, and brought to the general 
hospitals; with assurances that, when healed, they should 
have liberty to return to their homes. 

General Thomas came to a halt at Point Deschambault, 
about sixty miles above Quebec, and called a council of war 
to consider what was to be done. The enemy's ships were 
hastening up the St. Lawrence; some were already but two 
or three leagues distant. The camp was without cannon ; 
powder, forwarded by General Schuyler, had fallen into the 
enemy's hands; there were not provisions enough to subsist 
the army for more than two or three days; the men-of-war, 
too, might run up the river, intercept all their resources, and 
reduce them to the same extremity they had experienced be- 
fore Quebec. It was resolved, therefore, to ascend the river 
still further. 

General Thomas, however, determined to send forward 
the invalids, but to remain at Point Deschambault, with 
about five hundred men, until he should receive orders from 
Montreal, and learn whether such supplies could be for- 
warded immediately as would enable him to defend his 

The dispatches of General Thomas, setting forth the dis- 
astrous state of affairs, had a disheartening effect on Schuy- 
ler, who feared the army would b© obliged to abandon Can- 
ada. Washington, on the contrary, spoke cheeringly on the 
subject. *'We must not despair. A manly and spirited op- 
position only can insure success, and prevent the enemy from 
improving the advantage they have obtained." f 

* General Thomas to Washington, May 8. 
f Washington to Schuyler, May 17. 

84 U/or^s of W 3s\)'ir)(^tOT) \r\jir)<^ 

He regretted that tlie troops had not been able to make 
a stand at Point Deschambault, but hoped they would main- 
tain a post as far down the river as possible. The lower 
it was the more important would be the advantages result- 
ing from it, as all the country above would be favorable, 
and furnish assistance and support, while all below would 
necessarily be in the power of the enemy. 

The tidings of the reverses in Canada and the retreat of 
the American army bad spread consternation throughout the 
New Hampshire Grants and the New England frontiers, 
which would now be laid open to invasion. Committees of 
towns and districts assembled in various places to consult 
on the alarming state of affairs. In a time of adversity 
it relieves the public mind to have some individual on whom 
to charge its disasters. General Schuyler, at present, was to 
be the victim. We have already noticed the prejudice and 
ill will, on the part of the New England people, which had 
harassed him throughout the campaign, and nearly driven 
him from the service. His enemies now stigmatized him as 
the cause of the late reverses. He had neglected, they said, 
to forward re-enforcements and supplies to the army in Can- 
ada. His magnanimity in suffering Sir John Johnson to go 
at large while in his power was again misconstrued into a 
crime : he had thus enabled that dangerous man to renew 
his hostilities. Finally, it was insinuated that he was untrue 
to his countr}^, if not positively leagued with her enemies. 

These imputations were not generally advanced; and, 
when advanced, were not generally countenanced; but a 
committee of King's County appears to have given them 
credence, addressing a letter to the commander-in-chief on 
the subject, accompanied by documents. 

Washington, to whom Schuyler's heart had been laid 

Cife of \l/:asi)iT)<^tor) 86 

open throughout all his trials, and who knew its rectitude, 
received the letter and documents with indignation and dis- 
gust, and sent copies of them to the general. "From these," 
said he, "you will readily discover the diabolical and insidi- 
ous arts and schemes carrying on by the tories and friends 
of government to raise distrust, dissensions, and divisions 
among us. Having the utmost confidence in your integrity, 
and the most incontestable proof of your great attachment 
to our common country and its interests, I could not but look 
upon the charge against you with an eye of disbelief, and 
sentiments of detestation and abhorrence ; nor should I have 
troubled you with the matter, had I not been informed that 
copies were sent to different committees, and to Governor 
Trumbull, which I conceived would get abroad, and that 
you, should you find I had been furnished with them, would 
consider my suppressing them as an evidence of my belief, 
or at best of my doubts, of the charges." * 

We will go forward and give the sequel of the matter. 
While the imputations in question had merely floated in 
public rumor, Schuyler had taken no notice of them; *'but 
it is now," writes he in reply to "Washington, "a duty which 
I owe myself and my country to detect the scoundrels, and 
the only means of doing this is by requesting that an imme- 
diate inquiry be made into the matter ; when I trust it will 
appear that it was more a scheme calculated to ruin me than 
to disunite and create jealousies in the friends of America. 
Your Excellency will, therefore, please to order a court of 
inquiry the soonest possible ; for I cannot sit easy under such 
an infamous imputation ; since, on this extensive continent, 
numbers of the most respectable characters may not know 

* Washington to Schuyler, May 21. 

86 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^tOQ Iruir)^ 

what your Excellency and Congress do of my principles and 
exertions in the common cause.'' 

He further adds : "I am informed by persons of good 
credit that about one hundred persons, living on what are 
commonly called the New Hampshire Grants, have had a 
design to seize me as a tory, and perhaps still have. There 
never was a man so infamously scandalized and ill-treated as 
I am." 

We need only add that the Berkshire committees, which 
in a time of agitation and alarm had hastily given counte- 
nance to these imputations, investigated them deliberately 
in their cooler moments, and acknowledged, in a letter to 
Washington, that they were satisfied their suspicions respect- 
ing General Schuyler were wholly groundless. *'We sin- 
cerely hope," added they, ''his name may be handed down, 
with immortal honor, to the latest posterity, as one of the 
great pillars of the American cause." 


Gates sent to Philadelphia with the Canada Dispatches— Promoted 
to the rank of Major-General — Washington summoned to Phila- 
delphia — Putnam left in Command — Conference with Congress 
—Army Arrangements — A Board of War instituted — The Clin- 
tons of New York — Mrs. Washington Inoculated — Reed made 

As the reverses in Canada would affect the fortunes of 
the Revolution elsewhere, Washington sent General Gates to 
lay the dispatches concerning them before Congress. "His 
military experience," said he, "and intimate acquaintance 
with the situation of our affairs, will enable him to give 
Congress the fullest satisfaction about the measures neces- 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)<$top 8? 

sary to be adopted at this alarming crisis ; and, with his zeal 
and attachment to the cause of America, he will have a 
claim to their notice and favors." 

Scarce had Gates departed on his mission (May 19), when 
Washington himself received a summons to Philadelphia, to 
advise with Congress concerning the opening campaign. He 
was informed also that Gates, on the 16th of May, had been 
promoted to the rank of major-general, and Mifflin to that 
of brigadier-general, and a wish was intimated that they 
might take the command of Boston. 

Washington prepared to proceed to Philadelphia. His 
general orders issued on the 19th of May, show the anxious 
situation of affairs at New York. In case of an alarm the 
respective regiments were to draw opposite to their encamp- 
ments or quarters, until ordered to repair to the alarm posts. 
The alarm signals for regulars, militia, and the inhabitants 
of the city were, in the daytime — two cannon fired from the 
rampart at Fort George, and a flag hoisted on the top of 
Washington's headquarters. In the night— two cannon fired 
as above, and two lighted lanterns hoisted on the top of 
headquarters. '^ 

* The following statement of the batteries at New York 
we find dated May 22 : 

The Grand Battery, on the south part of the town. 

Fort George, immediately above it. 

White Hall Battery, on the left of the Grand Battery. 

Oyster Battery, behind General Washington's head- 

Grenadier Battery, near the Brew House on the North River. 

Jersey Battery, on the left of the Grenadier Battery. 

Bayard's Hill Redoubt, on Bayard's Hill. 

Spencer's Redoubt, on the hill where his brigade is en- 

Waterbury's Battery (fascines), on a wharf below this hill. 

Badlam's Redoubt, on a hill near the Jews' burying ground. 

88 U/orl^s of U/a8t7ir>^tor> Iruir>^ 

In his parting instructions to Putnam, who, as the oldest 
major-general in the city, would have the command during 
his absence, Washington informed him of the intention of 
the Provincial Congress of New York to seize the principal 
tories and disaffected persons in the city and the surround- 
ing country, especially on Long Island, and authorized him 
to afford military aid, if required, to carry the same into exe- 
cution. He was also to send Lord Stirhng, Colonel Putnam 
the engineer, and Colonel Knox, if he could be spared, up to 
the Highlands, to examine the state of the forts and garri- 
sons, and report what was necessary to put them in a post- 
ure of defense. The garrisons were chiefly composed of 
parts of a regiment of New York troops, commanded by 
Colonel James Clinton, of Ulster County, and were said to 
be sufficient. 

The general, accompanied by Mrs. Washington, departed 
from New York on the 21st of May, and they were invited 
by Mr. Hancock, the President of Congress, to be his guests 
during their sojourn at Philadelphia. 

Lee, when he heard of Washington's visit there, augured 
good effects from it. "I am extremely glad, dear general," 
writes he, *Hhat you are in Philadelphia, for their councils 
sometimes lack a Httle of military electricity. ' ' 

Washington, in his conferences with Congress, appears 
to have furnished this electricity. He roundly expressed his 
conviction that no accommodation could be effected with 
Great Britain on acceptable terms. Ministerialists had de- 
clared in Parliament that, the sword being drawn, the most 
coercive measures would be persevered in until there was 
complete submission. The recent subsidizing of foreign 
troops was a part of this policy, and indicated imsparing 
hostihty. A protracted war, therefore, was inevitable; but 

Cife of U/asI^iQ^tor) 89 

it would be impossible to carry it on successfully with the 
scanty force actually embodied, and with transient enlist- 
ments of militia. 

In consequence of his representations, resolutions were 
passed in Congress that soldiers should be enlisted for three 
years, with a bounty of ten dollars for each recruit ; that the 
army at New York should be re-enforced until the 1st of De- 
cember with thirteen thousand eight hundred militia; that 
gondolas and fire-rafts should be built, to prevent the men- 
of-war and enemy's ships from coming into New York Bay, 
or the Narrows; and that a flying camp of ten thousand mi- 
litia, furnished by Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, 
and likewise engaged until the 1st December, should be sta- 
tioned in the Jerseys for the defense of the Middle colonies. 
Washington was moreover empowered, in case of emer- 
gency, to call on the neighboring colonies for temporary 
aid with their militia. 

Another result of his conferences with Congress was the 
establishment of a war office. Military affairs had hitherto 
been referred in Congress to committees casually appointed, 
and had consequently been subject to great irregularity and 
neglect. Henceforth a permanent committee, entitled the 
Board of War and Ordnance, was to take cognizance of 
them. The first board was composed of five members: John 
Adams, Colonel Benjamin Harrison, Roger Sherman, James 
Wilson, and Edward Rutledge; with Richard Peters as 
secretary. It went into operation on the 12th of June. 

While at Philadelphia, Washington had frequent con- 
sultations with George Clinton, one of the delegates from 
New York, concerning the interior defenses of that province- 
especially those connected with the security of the Highlands 
of the Hudson, where part of the regiment of Colonel Jamea 

90 U/orl^s of U/asf^ip^toi) fruip^ 

Clinton, tlie brother of the delegate, was stationed. The im - 
portant part which these brothers were soon to act in the 
military affairs of that province, and ultimately in its po- 
litical history, entitles them to a special notice. 

They were of the old Clinton stock of England; being 
descended from General James Clinton, an adherent of roy- 
alty in the time of the civil wars, but who passed over to 
Ireland after the death of Charles I. Their father, Charles 
Clinton, grandson of the general, emigrated to America in 
1729, and settled in Ulster, now Orange County, just above 
the Highlands of the Hudson. Though not more than fifty 
miles from the city of New York, it was at that time on the 
borders of a wilderness, where every house had at times to 
be a fortress. Charles Chnton, like most men on our savage 
frontier in those days, was a warrior by necessity, if not by 
choice. He took an active part in Indian and French wars, 
commanded a provincial regiment stationed at Fort Herki- 
mer, joined in the expedition under General Bradstreet, 
when it passed up the valley of the Mohawk, and was pres- 
ent at the capture of Fort Frontenac. His sons, James and 
George, one twenty, the other seventeen years of age, served 
in the same campaign, the one as captain, the other as lieu- 
tenant ; thus taking an early lesson in that school of Ameri- 
can soldiers, the French war. 

James, whose propensities were always military, con- 
tinued in the provincial army until the close of that war; 
and afterward, when settled on an estate in Ulster County, 
was able and active in organizing its militia. George applied 
himself to the law, and became successful at the bar in the 
same county. Their father, having laid aside the sword, 
occupied for many years, with discernment and integrity, 
the honorable station of Judge of the Court of Common 

Cife of lI/a8l?ir><$tOQ 91 

Pleas. He died in Ulster County, in 1773, in the eighty- 
third year of his age, "in full view of that revolution in 
which his sons were to act distinguished parts." With his 
latest breath he charged them "to stand by the liberties of 
their country." 

They peeded no such admonition. From the very first 
they had been heart and hand in the cause. George had 
championed it for years in the New York Legislature, signal- 
izing himself by his zeal as one of an intrepid minority in 
opposing ministerial oppression. He had but recently taken 
his seat as delegate to the Continental Congress. 

James Clinton, appointed colonel on the 30th of June, 
1775, had served with his regiment of New York troops un- 
der Montgomery at the siege of St. John's and the capture 
of Montreal, after which he had returned home. He had 
subsequently been appointed to the command of a regiment 
in one of the four battalions raised for the defense of New 
York. We shall soon have occasion to speak further of these 
patriot brothers. 

The prevalence of smallpox had frequently rendered 
Washington uneasy on Mrs. Washington's account during 
her visits to the army; he was relieved, therefore, by her 
submitting to inoculation during their sojourn in Phila- 
delphia, and having a very favorable time. 

He was gratified, also, by procuring the appointment of his 
late secretary, Joseph Reed, to the post of adjutant-general, 
vacated by the promotion of General Gates, thus placing him 
once more by his side. 

92 U/or^s of U/asl^io^tor) Irui'o^ 


AS&kB in Cauada— Disaster at the Cedars— Hostile Designs of the 
Johnsons— A Bloody Summer expected— Forts in the Highlands 
— Colonel James Clinton in Command—Fortifications at King's 
Bridge and on Long Island 

Dispatches from Canada continued to be disastrous. 
Greneral Arnold, who was in command at Montreal, had 
established a post on the St. Lawrence, about forty miles 
above that place, on a point of land called the Cedars ; whei-e 
he had stationed Colonel Bedel with about four hundred men 
to prevent goods being sent to the enemy in the upper coun- 
try, and to guard against surprise from them or their Indians. 

In the latter part of May, Colonel Bedel received intelli- 
gence that a large body of British, Canadians, and Indians, 
under the command of Captain Forster, \vere coming down 
from Oswegatchie to attack him. Leaving Major Butter- 
field in command of the post, he hastened down to Montreal 
to obtain re-enforcements. Arnold immediately detached 
one hundred men, under Major Shelburne, and prepared to 
follow in person, with a much greater force. In the mean- 
time, the post at the Cedars had been besieged, and Major 
Butterfield intimidated into a surrender, by a threat from 
Captain Forster that resistance would provoke a massacre 
of his whole garrison by the Indians. The re-enforcements 
under Major Shelburne were assailed within four miles of 
the Cedars by a large party of savages, and captured, after 
a sharp skirmish, in which several were killed on both sides. 

Arnold received wor(J of these disasters while on the 

Cife of U/a8t?ii)<$tor> 93 

march. He instantly sent forward some Caughnawaga In- 
dians to overtake the savages and demand a surrender of the 
prisoners; with a threat that, in case of a refusal, and that 
any of them were murdered, he would sacrifice every Indian 
who fell into his hands, and would follow the offenders to 
their towns, and destroy them by fire and sword. He now 
embarked four hundred of his men in bateaux, and pushed 
on with the remainder by land. Arriving at St. Anne's, 
above the rapids of the St. Lawrence, he discovered several 
of the enemy's bateaux taking the prisoners off from the isl- 
and, a league distant. It was a tormenting sight, as it was 
not in his power to relieve them. His bateaux were a league 
behind, coming up the rapids very slowly. He sent several 
expresses to hurry them. It was sunset before they arrived, 
and he could embark all his people; in the meantime, his 
Caughnawaga messengers returned with an answer from 
the savages. They had five hundred prisoners collected to- 
gether, they said, at Quinze Chiens, where they were posted ; 
should he offer to land and attack them, they would kill 
every prisoner, and give no quarter to any who should fall 
into their hands thereafter. 

"Words cannot express my feelings," writes Arnold, '*at 
the delivery of this message. Torn by the conflicting pas- 
sions of revenge and humanity; a sufficient force to take 
ample revenge, raging for action, urged me on one hand; 
and humanity for five hundred unhappy wretches, who were 
on the point of being sacrificed, if our vengeance was not de- 
layed, pleaded equally strong on the other." In this situa- 
tion, he ordered the boats to row immediately for the island 
whither he had seen the enemy taking their prisoners. Be- 
fore he reached it, the savages had conveyed them all away, 
excepting five, whom he found naked, and almost starved, 

94 U/or^s of ll/asJ?ii7<5top \rv\r)(^ 

and one or two, whom, being unwell, they had butchered. 
Arnold now pushed for Qumze Chiens, about four miles dis- 
tant, on the mainland. Here was the whole force of the 
enemy, civilized and savage, intrenched and fortified. 

As Arnold approached, they opened a fire upon his boats, 
with small arms and two brass six-pounders. He rowed 
near the land, ^^^thout returning a shot. By this time it 
was too dark to distinguish anything on shore, and being 
unacquainted with the ground, he judged it prudent to 
return to St. John's. 

Here he called a council of war, and it was determined 
to attack the enemy early in the morning. In the course 
of the night a flag was sent by Captain Forster, with articles 
for an exchange of prisoners, which had been entered into 
by him and Major Shelburne. As the terms were not equal, 
they were objected to by Arnold, and a day passed before 
they were adjusted. A cartel was then signed, by which the 
prisoners, consisting of two majors, nine captains, twenty 
subalterns, and four hundred and forty-three privates, were 
to be exchanged for an equal number of British prisoners 
of the same rank, and were to be sent to the south shore of 
the St. Lawrence, near Caughnawaga, whence to return 
to their homes. Nine days were allowed for the delivery 
of the prisoners, during which time hostilities should be 

Arnold, in a letter to the commissioners of Congress then 
at Montreal, giving an account of this arrangement, ex- 
pressed his indignation at the conduct of the king's officers 
in employing savages to screen their butcheries, and suffer- 
ing their prisoners to be killed in cold blood. '*I intend being 
^vith you this evening," added he, "to consult on some ef- 
fectual measures to take with these savages, and still more 

Cife of lI/asl?ir)($top 95 

savage British troops, who are still at Quinze Chiens. As 
soon as our prisoners are released, I hope it will be in our 
power to take ample vengeance, or nobly fall in the at- 
tempt." * 

The accounts which reached "Washington of these affairs 
were vague and imperfect, and kept him for some days in 
painful suspense. The disasters at the Cedars were attrib- 
uted entirely to the base and cowardly conduct of Bedel and 
Butterfield, and he wrote to Schuyler to have good courts 
appointed and bring them, and every other ofl&cer guilty of 
misconduct, to trial. 

''The situation of our affairs in Canada, " observes he, 
"is truly alarming. I sincerely wish the next letters from 
the northward may not contain the melancholy advices of 
General Arnold's defeat, and the loss of Montreal. The 
most vigorous exertions will be necessary to retrieve our cir- 
cumstances there, and I hope you will strain every nerve foi 
that purpose. Unless it can be done now, Canada will be 
lost to us forever." 

While his mind was agitated by these concerns, letters 
from Schuyler showed that mischief was brewing in another 

Colonel Guy Johnson, accompanied by the Sachem Brant 
and the Butlers, had been holding councils with the Indians, 
and designed, it was said, to come back to the Mohawk 
country at the head of a British and savage force. A cor- 
respondence was carried on between him and his cousin. Sir 
John Johnson, who was said to be preparing to co operate 
with his Scotch dependents and Indian allies. 

Considering this a breach of Sir John's parole, Schuyler 

* Arnold to the Commis. of Cong., 27th May. 

96 U/or^8 of U/a8>?ir)^toi) Iruir)^ 

had sent Colonel Elias Dayton with a force to apprehend 
him. Sir John, with a number of his armed tenants, re- 
treated for refuge among the Indians, on the borders of the 
lakes. Dayton took temporary possession of Johnson Hall, 
placed guards about it, seized upon Sir John's papers, and 
read them in the presence of Lady Johnson, and subse- 
quently conveyed her ladyship as a kind of hostage to 

Shortly afterward came further intelligence of the designs 
of the Johnsons. Sir John, with his Scotch warriors and 
Indian allies, was said to be actually coming down the valley 
of the Mohawk, bent on revenge, and preparing to lay every- 
thing waste ; and Schuyler collecting a force at Albany to 
oppose him. Washington instantly wrote to Schuyler to 
detach Colonel Dayton with his regiment on that service, 
with instructions to secure a post where Fort Stanwix for- 
merly stood in the time of the French war. As to Schuyler 
himself, "Washington, on his own responsibility, directed him 
to hold a conference with the Six Nations, and with any 
others whom he and his brother commissioners on Indian 
affairs might think necessary, and secure their active ser- 
vices, without waiting further directions from Congress; 
that body having recently resolved to employ Indian allies 
in the war, the enemy having set the example. 

**We expect a bloody summer in New York and Canada," 
writes Washington to his brother Augustine, "and I am 
sorry to say that we are not, either in men or arms, prepared 
for it. However, it is to be hoped that, if our cause is just, 
as I most religiously believe, the same Providence which 
has, in many instances, appeared for us, will still go on to 
afford its aid." 

Lord Stirling, who, by Washington's orders, had visited 

Cife of Wzs\)\T)<^tOT) 97 

and inspected the defenses in the Highlands, rendered a 
report of their condition, of which we give the purport. Fort 
Montgomery, at the lower part of the Highlands, was on 
the west bank of the river, north of D under berg (or Thunder 
Hill). It was situated on a bank one hundred feet high. 
The river at that place was about half a mile wide. Oppo- 
site the fort was the promontory of Antony's Nose, many 
hundred feet high, accessible only to goats, or men expert in 
climbing. A body of riflemen stationed here might com- 
mand the decks of vessels. Fort Montgomery appeared to 
Lord Stirling a proper place for a guard post. 

Fort Constitution was about six miles higher up the river, 
on a rocky island of the same name at a narrow strait where 
the Hudson, shouldered by precipices, makes a sudden bend 
round West Point. A redoubt, in the opinion of Lord Stirl- 
ing, would be needed on the point, not only for the preser- 
vation of Fort Constitution, but for its own importance. 

The garrison of that fort consisted of two companies of 
Colonel James Clinton's regiment and Captain Wisner's 
company of minute men, in all one hundred and sixty rank 
and file. Fort Montgomery was garrisoned by three com- 
panies of the same regiment, about two hundred rank and 
file. Both garrisons were miserably armed. The direction 
of the works of both forts was in the hands of commissioners 
appointed by the Provincial Congress of New York. The 
general command of the posts required to be adjusted. Sev- 
eral persons accused of being "notorious tones'' had recently 
been sent into Fort Montgomery by the district committees 
of the counties of Albany, Dutchess, and Westchester, with 
directions to the commanding officers to keep them at hard 
labor until their further order. They were employed upon 

the fortifications. 
Vol. Xm.— ***5 

98 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir,^tOQ Iru!Q<$ 

In view of all these circumstances, Washington, on the 
14th of June, ordered Colonel James Clinton to take com- 
mand of both posts, and of all the troops stationed at them. 
He seemed a fit custodian for them, having been a soldier 
from his youth ; brought up on a frontier subject to Indian 
alarms and incursions, and acquainted with the strong points 
and fastnesses of the Highlands. 

King's Bridge and the heights adjacent, considered by 
General Lee of the utmost importance to the communication 
between New York and the mainland, and to the security 
of the Hudson, were reconnoitered by "Washington on horse- 
back about the middle of the month ; ordering where works 
should be laid out. Breastworks were to be thrown up for 
the defense of the bridge, and an advanced work (subse- 
quently called Fort Independence) was to be built beyond 
it, on a hill commanding Spyt den Duivel Creek, as that 
inlet of the Hudson is called which links it with the Harlaem 

A strong work, intended as a kind of citadel, was to 
crown a rocky height between two and three miles south 
of the bridge, commanding the channel of the Hudson ; and 
below it were to be redoubts on the banks of the river at 
Jeffrey's Point. In honor of the general, the citadel re- 
ceived the name of Fort Washington. 

Colonel Rufus Putnam was the principal engineer who 
had the direction of the works. General Mifflin encamped 
in their vicinity with part of the two battalions from Penn- 
sylvania to be employed in their construction, aided by the 

While these preparations were made for the protection 
of the Hudson, the works about Brooklyn, on Long Islaaid, 
were carried on with great activity, under the isuperintGnd- 

Cife of U/a8l7ii><$toi7 99 

ence of General Greene. In a word, the utmost exertions 
were made at every point to put the city, its environs, and 
the Hudson River, in a state of defense before the arrival 
of another hostile armament. 


Retreat of General Thomas— His Death — General Sullivan in Com- 
mand—Scene on the Sorel — Sanguine Expectations of Sullivan 
— Washington's Opinion of Sullivan's Character —Gates ap- 
pointed to the Command in Canada — Re-enforcements of the 
Enemy — Reverses — Thompson Captured — Retreat of Sullivan — 
Close of the Invasion of Canada 

Operations in Canada were drawing to a disastrous 
close. General Thomas, finding it impossible to make a 
stand at Point Deschambault, had continued his retreat to 
the mouth of the Sorel, where he found General Thompson 
with part of the troops detached by Washington from New 
York, who were making some preparations for defense. 
Shortly after his arrival he was taken ill with smallpox, and 
removed to Chamblee. He had prohibited inoculation among 
his troops, because it put too many of their scanty number 
on the sick list; he probably fell a victim to his own prohibi- 
tion, as he died of that malady on the 2d of June. 

On his death, General Sullivan, who had recently arrived 
with the main detachment of troops from New York, suc- 
ceeded to the command; General Wooster having been re- 
called. He advanced immediately with his brigade to the 
mouth of the Sorel, where he found General Thompson, with 
but very few troops to defend that post, having detached 
Colonel St. Clair, with six or seven hundred men, to Three 
Rivers, about fifty miles down the St. Lawrence, to give 

100 U/orKs of U/asf^ip^too Irufi)^ 

check to an advanced corps of tlie enemy, of about eight 
hundred regulars and Canadians, under the veteran Scot, 
Colonel Maclean. In the meantime, General Thompson, 
who was left with but two hundred men to defend his post, 
was sending off his sick and his heavy baggage to be pre- 
pared for a retreat, if necessary. *'It really was affectinrj/' 
writes Sullivan to Washington, "to see the banks of the Sorel 
lined with men, women, and children, leaping, and clapping 
their hands for joy to see me arrive; it gave no less joy to 
General Thompson, who seemed to be wholly forsaken, and 
left to fight against an unequal force, or retreat before them. " 

Sullivan proceeded forthwith to complete the works on 
the Sorel; in the meantime he detached General Thompson 
with additional troops to overtake St. Clair, and assume 
command of the whole party, which would then amount to 
two thousand men. He was by no means to attack the en- 
campment at Three Rivers, unless there was great prospect 
of success, as his defeat might prove she total loss of Canada. 
"I have the highest opinion of the bravery and resolution 
of the troops you command," says Sullivan in his instruc- 
tions, "and doubt not but, under the direction of a kind 
Providence, you will open the way for our recovering that 
ground which former troops have so shamefully lost,*' 

Sullivan's letter to "Washington, written at the same time, 
is full of sanguine anticipation. It was his fixed determina- 
tion to gain post at Deschambault, and fortify it, so as to 
make it inaccessible, "The enemy's ships are now above 
that place," writes he; "but if General Thompson succeeds 
at Three Rivers, I will soon remove the ships below Kichelieu 
Falls, and, after that, approach Quebec as fast as possible." 

*'Our affairs here," adds he, "have taken a strange turn 
since our arrival. The Canadians are flocking by hundreds 

Cife of U/a8l?ii7^tor> 101 

to take a part with us. The only reason of their disaffection 
was because our exertions were so feeble that they doubted 
much of our success, and even of our ability to protect them. 

"I venture to assure you and the Congress that I can 
in a few days reduce the army to order, and, with the assist- 
ance of a kind Providence, put a new face to our affairs 
here, which a few days since seemed almost impossible." 

The letter of Sullivan gave Washington an unexpected 
gleam of sunshine. "Before it came to hand," writes he 
in reply, *'I almost dreaded to hear from Canada, as my 
advices seemed to promise nothing favorable, but rather 
further misfortunes. But I now hope that our affairs, from 
the confused, distracted, and almost forlorn state in which 
you found them, will change, and assume an aspect of order 
and success." Still his sagacious mind perceived a motive 
for this favorable coloring of affairs. SulHvan Avas aiming at 
the command in Canada; and Washington soberly weighed 
his merits for the appointment, in a letter to the President 
of Congress. *'He is active, spirited, and zealously attached 
to the cause. He has his wants, and he has his foibles. The 
latter are manifested in his little tincture of vanity, and in 
an overdesire of being popular, which now and then lead 
him into embarrassments. His wants are common to us all. 
He wants experience to move upon a grand scale; for the 
limited and contracted knowledge which any of us have 
in military matters stands in very little stead." This want 
was overbalanced, on the part of General Sullivan, by sound 
judgment, some acquaintance with men and books, and an 
enterprising genius. 

**As the security of Canada is of the last importance to 
the well-being of these colonies," adds Washington, *' I should 
like to know the sentiments of Congress respecting the nonii- 

102 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^tor? Iruir?^ 

nation of any officer to that command. The character I have 
drawn of General Sullivan is just, according to my ideas 
of him. Congress will therefore determine upon the pro- 
priety of continuing him in Canada, or sending another, as 
they shall see fit." * 

Scarce had Washington dispatched this letter, when he 
received one from the President of Congress, dated the 18th 
of June, informing him that Major-general Gates had been 
appointed to command the forces in Canada, and requesting 
him to expedite his departure as soon as possible. The ap- 
pointment of Gates has been attributed to the influence of 
the Eastern delegates, with whom he was a favorite; indeed, 
during his station at Boston he had been highly successful 
in cultivating the good graces of the New England people. 
He departed for his command on the 26th of June, vested 
with extraordinary powers for the regulation of affairs in 
that "distant, dangerous, and shifting scene." "I would 
fain hope," writes Washington, *'his arrival there will give 
our affairs a complexion different from what they have worn 
for a long time past, and that many essential benefits will 
result from it." 

Dispatches just received from General Sullivan had given 
a different picture of affairs in Canada from that contained 
in his previous letter. In fact, when he wrote that letter, 
he was ignorant of the actual force of the enemy in Canada, 
which had recently been augmented to about thirteen thou- 
sand men; several regiments having arrived from Ireland, 
one from England, another from General Howe, and a body 
of Brunswick troops under the Baron Riedesel. Of these, 
the greater part were on the way up from Quebec in divi- 

* Washington to the President of Congress, July 12, 1776. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 103 

sions, by land and water, with Generals Garleton, Burgoyne, 
Philips, and Riedesel ; while a considerable number under 
General Fraser had arrived at Three Rivers, and others, 
under General Nesbit, lay near them on board of transports. 

Sullivan's dispatch, dated on the 8th of June, at the 
mouth of the Sorel, began in his former sanguine vein, antici- 
pating the success of General Thompson's expedition to 
Three Rivers. **He has proceeded in the manner proposed, 
and made his attack at daylight, for at that time a very 
heavy cannonading began, which lasted with some intervals 
to twelve o'clock. It is now near 1 p.m.; the firing has 
ceased, except some irregular firing with cannon, at a con- 
siderable distance of time one from the other. At eight 
o'clock a very heavy firing of small-arms was heard even 
here, at the distance of forty-five miles. I am almost certain 
that victory has declared in our favor, as the irregular firing 
of the cannon for such a length of time after the small-arms 
ceased shows that our men are in possession of the ground." 

The letter was kept open to give the particulars of this 
supposed victory ; it closed with a dismal reverse. General 
Thompson had coasted in bateaux along the right bank of 
the river at the expanse called Lake St. Pierre, and arrived 
at Nicolete, where he found St. Clair and his detachment. 
He crossed the river in the night, and landed a few miles 
above Three Rivers, intending to surprise the enemy before 
daylight ; he was not aware at the time that additional troops 
had arrived under General Burgoyne. 

After landing, he marched with rapidity toward Three 
Rivers, but was led by treacherous guides into a morass and 
obliged to return back nearly two miles. Day broke, and 
he was discovered from the ships. A cannonade was opened 
upon his men as they made their way slowly for an hour and 

104 U/orl^s of U/asI^io^top Iruip<$ 

a half through a swamp. At length they arrived in sight 
of Three Rivers, but it was to find a large force drawn up 
in battle array, under General Fraser, by whom they were 
warmly attacked, and after a brief stand thrown into con- 
fusion. Thompson attempted to rally his troops, and partly 
succeeded, until a fire was opened upon them in rear by 
Nesbit, who had landed from his ships. Their rout now was 
complete. General Thompson, Colonel Irvine, and about 
two hundred men were captui^d, twenty-five were slain, and 
the rest pursued for several miles through a deep swamp. 
After great fatigues and sufferings, they were able to get on 
board of their boats, which had been kept from falling into 
the hands of the enemy. In these they made their way back 
to the Sorel, bringing General Sullivan a sad explanation 
of all the firing he had heard, and the alarming intelligence 
of the overpowering force that was coming up the river. 

"This, my dear general," writes Sullivan, in the conclu- 
sion of his letter, **is the state of this unfortunate enterprise. 
What you will next hear I cannot say. I am every moment 
informed of the vast number of the enemy which have 
arrived. I have only two thousand five hundred and thirty- 
three rank and file. Most of the officers seem discouraged, 
and, of course, their men. I am employed day and night 
in fortifying and securing my camp, and am determined to 
hold it as long as a person will stick by me." 

He had, indeed, made the desperate resolve to defend the 
mouth of the Sorel, but was induced to abandon it by the 
unanimous opinion of his officers and the evident unwilling- 
ness of his troops. Dismantling his batteries, therefore, he 
retreated with his artillery and stores, just before the arrival 
of the enemy, and was followed, step by step along the Sorel, 
by a strong column imder General Burgoyne. 

Cife of \lfas\)lT)(^tOT) L05 

On the 18th of June he was joined by General Arnold 
with three hundred men, the garrison of Montreal, who had 
crossed at Longueil just in time to escape a large detachment 
of the enemy. Thus re-enforced, and the evacuation of 
Canada being determined on in a council of war, Sullivan 
succeeded in destroying everything at Chamblee and St. 
John's that he could not carry away, breaking down bridges, 
and leaving forts and vessels in flames, and continued his 
retreat to the Isle aux Noix, where he made a halt for some 
days until he should receive positive orders from Washing- 
ton or General Schuyler. In a letter to Washington, he 
observes, "I am extremely sorry it was not in my power to 
fulfill your Excellency's wishes by leading on our troops 
to victory." After stating the reason of his failure, he 
adds, *'I think we shall secure all the public stores and bag- 
gage of the army, and secure our retreat with very little 
loss. Whether we shall have well men enough to carry 
them on, I much doubt, if we don't remove quickly; unless 
Heaven is pleased to restore health to this wretched army, 
now, perhaps, the most pitiful one that ever was formed." 

The low, unhealthy situation of the Isle aux Noix obliged 
him soon to remove his camp to the Isle la Motte, whence, 
on receiving orders to that effect from General Schuyler, 
he ultimately embarked with his forces, sick and well, for 
Crown Point. 

Thus ended this famous invasion; an enterprise bold in 
its conceptions, daring and hardy in its execution; full of 
ingenious expedients and hazardous exploits; and which, 
had not unforeseen circumstances counteracted its well- 
devised plans, might have added all Canada to the Amer- 
ican confederacy. 

106 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 


Designs of the Enemy against New York and the Hudson — Plot of 
Tryon and the Tories — Arrival of a Fleet — Alarm Posts — Treach- 
ery up the Hudson— Fresh Arrivals — General Howe at Staten 
Island — Washington's Preparations 

The great aim of the British, at present, was to get pos- 
session of New York and the Hudson, and make them the 
basis of military operations. This they hoped to effect on 
the arrival of a powerful armament, hourly expected, and 
designed for operations on the seaboard. 

At this critical juncture there was an alarm of a con- 
spiracy among the tories in the city and on Long Island, 
suddenly to take up arms and co-operate with the British 
troops on their arrival. The wildest reports were in circula- 
tion concerning it. Some of the tories were to break down 
King's Bridge, others were to blow up the magazines, spike 
the guns, and massacre all the field-officers. Washington 
was to be killed or delivered up to the enemy. Some of his 
own bodyguard were said to be in the plot. 

Several publicans of the city were pointed out as having 
aided or abetted the plot. One was landlord of the High- 
lander, at the corner of Beaver Street and Broadway. An- 
other dispensed liquor under the sign of Robin Hood. 
Another named Lowry, described as a ''fat man in a blue 
coat," kept tavern in a low house opposite the Oswego 
market. Another, James Houlding, kept a beer house in 
Tryon Row, opposite the gates of the upper barracks. It 
would seem as if a network of corruption and treachery had 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($toi> 107 

been woven throughout the city by means of these liquor 
dealers. One of the most noted, however, was Corbie, 
whose tavern was said to be **to the southeast of General 
Washington's house, to' the westward of Bayard's Woods, 
and north of Lispenard's Meadows," from which it would 
appear that at that time th^ general was quartered at what 
was formerly called Richmond Hill ; a mansion surrounded 
by trees, at a short distance from the city, in rather an 
isolated situation. 

A committee of the New York Congress, of which John 
Jay was chairman, traced the plot up to Governor Try on, 
who, from his safe retreat on shipboard, acted through 
agents on shore. The most important of these was David 
Matthews, the tory mayor of the city. He was accused of 
disbursing money to enlist men, purchase arms, and corrupt 
the soldiery. 

Washington was authorized and requested by the com- 
mittee to cause the mayor to be apprehended, and all his 
papers secured. Matthews was at that time residing at Flat- 
bush, on Long Island, at no great distance from General 
Greene's encampment. Washington transmitted the war- 
rant of the committee to the general on the 21st, with direc- 
tions that it should ''be executed with precision, and exactly 
by one o'clock of the ensuing morning, by a careful officer." 

Precisely at the hour of one, a detachment from Greene's 
brigade surrounded the house of the mayor and secured his 
person; but no papers were found, though diligent search 
was made. 

Numerous other arrests took place, and among the num- 
ber some of Washington's bodyguard. A great dismay fell 
upon the tories. Some of those on Long Island who had 
proceeded to arm themselves, finding the plot discovered, 

108 U/orl^s of U/asJ^ip^tor) Iruir)^ 

sought refuge in woods and morasses. Washington directed 
that those arrested, who belonged to the army, should be 
tried by a court-martial, and the rest handed over to the 
secular power. 

According to statements made before the committee, five 
guineas bounty was offered by Governor Try on to each man 
who should enter the king's service; with a promise of two 
hundred acres of land for himself, one hundred for his wife, 
and fifty for each child. The men thus recruited were to 
act on shore, in co-operation with the king's troops -when 
they came. 

Corbie's tavern, near Washington's quarters, was a kind 
of rendezvous of the conspirators. There one Gilbert Forbes, 
a gunsmith, ''a short, thick man, with a white coat," en- 
listed men, gave them money, and '* swore them on the book 
to secrecy." From this house a correspondence was kept 
up with Governor Try on on shipboard, through a "mulatto- 
colored negro, dressed in blue clothes." At this tavern 
it was supposed Washington's bodyguards were tampered 
with. Thomas Hickey, one of the guards, a dark-complex- 
ioned man, five feet six inches high, and well-set, was said 
not only to be enlisted, but to have aided in corrupting his 
comrades ; among others, Greene the drummer, and Johnson 
the fifer. 

It was further testified before the committee that one 
Sergeant Graham, an old soldier, formerly of the royal 
artillery, had been employed by Governor Try on to prowl 
round and survey the grounds and works about the city and 
on Long Island, and that, on information thus procured, a 
plan of operations had been concerted. On the arrival of 
the fleet, a man-of-war should cannonade the battery- at Red 
Hook; while that was doing, a detachment of the army 

Cife of U/asl>ii7<$toi> 109 

should land below with cannon, and by a circuitous march 
surprise and storm the works on Long Island. The shipping 
then, with the remainder of the army, were to divide, one 
part to run up the Hudson, and the other up the Ea,st River; 
troops were to land above New York, secure the pass at 
King's Bridge, and cut off all communication between the 
city and country. * 

Much of the evidence given was of a dubious kind. It 
was certain that persons had secretly been enlisted, and 
sworn to hostile operations, but Washington did not think 
that any regular plan had been digested by the conspirators. 
**The matter," writes he, "I am in hopes, by a timely dis- 
covery, will be suppressed." f 

According to the mayor's own admission before the com- 
mittee, he had been cognizant of attempts to enlist tories and 
corrupt Washington's guards, though he declared that he 
had discountenanced them. He had on one occasion, also, 
at the request of Governor Tryon, paid money for him to 
Gilbert Forbes, the gunsmith, for rifles and round-bored 
guns, which he had already furnished, and for others which 
he was to make. He had done so, however (according to 
his account), with great reluctance, and after much hes- 
itation and delay, warning the gunsmith that he would 
be hanged if found out. The mayor, with a number of 
others, were detained in prison to await a trial. 

Thomas Hickey, the individual of Washington's guard, 
was tried before a court-martial. He was an Irishman, 
and had been a deserter from the British army. The court- 
martial found him guilty of mutiny and sedition, and treach- 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, vi. 11??. 

t Washington to the President of Congress, June 28. 

110 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ig<$cor7 IrulQ^ 

erous correspondence with the enemy, and sentenced him to 
be hanged. 

The sentence was approved by Washmgton, and was 
carried promptly into effect, in the most solemn and impres- 
sive manner, to serve as a warning and example in this time 
of treachery and danger. On the morning of the 28th, all 
the officers and men off duty, belonging to the brigades of 
Heath, Spencer, Stirling, and Scott, assembled under arms 
at their respective parades at ten o'clock, and marched thence 
to the ground. Twenty men from each brigade, with bay- 
onets fixed, guarded the prisoner to the place of execution, 
which was a field near the Bowery Lane. There he was 
hanged in the presence, we are told, of near twenty thousand 

While the city was still brooding over this doleful spec- 
tacle, four ships of war, portentous visitants, appeared off 
the Hook, stood quietly in at the !N"arrows, and drojDped 
anchor in the bay. 

In his orderly book, AVashington expressed a hope that 
the unhappy fate of Thomas Hickey, executed that day for 
mutiny, sedition, and treachery, would be a warning to every 
soldier in the line to avoid the crimes for which he suffered.* 

* As a specimen of the reports which circulated through- 
out the country concerning this conspiracy, we give an 
extract from a letter, written from Wethersfield, in Connec- 
ticut, 9th of July, 1776, by the Reverend John Marsh. 

*'You have heard of the infernal plot that has been dis- 
covered. About ten days before any of the conspirators 
were taken up, a woman went to the general and desired 
a private audience. He granted it to her, and she let him 
know that his hfe was in danger, and gave him such an 
account of the conspiracy as gained his confidence. He 
opened the matter to a few friends, on whom he could de- 
pend. A strict watch was kept night and day, until a fav- 
orable opportunity occurred ; when the general went to bed 

Cife of lI/a8l?ir)<$toi7 111 

On the 29th of June an express from the lookout on 
Staten Island announced that forty sail were in sight. They 
were, in fact, ships from Halifax, bringing between nine and 
ten thousand of the troops recently expelled from Boston^ 
together with six transports filled with Highland troops, 
which had joined the fleet at sea. At sight of this formi- 
dable armament standing into the harbor, "Washington in- 
stantly sent notice of its arrival to Colonel James Clinton, 
who had command of the post in the Highlands, and urged 
all possible preparations to give the enemy a warm reception 
should they push their frigates up the river. 

According to general orders issued from headquarters 
on the following day (June 30), the officers and men not on 
duty were to march from their respective regimental parades 
to their alarm posts, at least once every day, that they might 
become well acquainted with them. They were to go by 
routes least exposed to a fire from the shipping, and all the 

as usual, arose about two o'clock, told his lady hs was 
a-going, with some of the Provincial Congress, to order 
some tories seized — desired she would make herself easy, 
and go to sleep. He went off without any of his aides-de- 
camp, except the captain of his life-guard, was joined by 
a number of chosen men, with lanterns and proper instru- 
ments to break open houses, and before six o'clock next 
morning had forty men under guard at the City Hall, among 
whom was the mayor of the city, several merchants, and 
five or six of his own life-guard. Upon examination, one 
Forbes confessed that the plan was to assassinate the general, 
and as many of the superior officers as they could, and to 
blow up the magazine upon the appearance of the enemy's 
fleet, and to go off in boats prepared for that purpose to join 
the enemy. Thomas Hickey, who has been executed, went 
from this place. He came from Ireland a few years ago. 
What wiU be done with the mayor is uncertain. He can't 
be tried by court-martial, and, it is said, there is no law of 
that colony by which he can be condemned. May he have 
his deserts. ' ' 

112 U/orKs of \]Ja6\)ir)<^toT) Iruip^ 

officers, from the highest to the lowest, were to make them- 
selves well acquainted with the grounds. Upon a signal of 
the enemy's approach, or upon any alarm, all fatigue parties 
were immediately to repair to their respective corps with 
their arms, ammunition and accouterments, ready for instant 

It was ascertained that the ramifications of the conspiracy 
lately detected extended up the Hudson. Many of the dis- 
affected in the upper counties were enlisted in it. The com- 
mittee of safety at Cornwall, in Orange County, sent word 
to Colonel James Clinton, Fort Constitution, of the mischief 
that was brewing. James Haff, a tory, had confessed before 
them that he was one of a number who were to join the 
British troops as soon as they should amve. It was expected 
the latter would push up the river and land at Verplanck's 
Point; whereupon the guns at the forts in the Highlands 
were to be spiked by soldiers of their own garrisons; and 
the tories throughout the country were to be up in arms.* 

Clinton received letters, also, from a meeting cf com- 
mittees in the precincts of Newburg, apprising him that 
persons dangerous to the cause were lurking in that neigh- 
borhood, and requesting him to detach twenty-five men 
under a certain lieutenant acquainted with the woods, **to 
aid in getting some of these rascals apprehended and se- 

While city and country were thus agitated by apprehen- 
sions of danger, internal and external, other arrivals swelled 
the mmiber of ships in the bay of New York to one hundred 
and thirty, men-of-war and transports. They made no 

* Extracts from minutes of the committee, American 
Archives, 4-th Series, vi. Ill '2. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip<^top 113 

movement to ascend the Hudson, but anchored off Staten 
Island, where they landed their troops, and the hillsides 
were soon whitened with their tents. 

In the frigate ** Greyhound," one of the four ships which 
first arrived, came General Howe. He had preceded the 
fleet, in order to confer with Governor Tryon, and inform 
himself of the state of affairs. In a letter to his government 
he writes: **I met with Governor Tryon on board of a ship 
at the Hook, and many gentlemen, fast friends of govern- 
ment, attending him, from whom I have the fullest informa- 
tion of the state of the rebels. . . . We passed the Narrows 
with three ships of war, and the first division of transports, 
landed the grenadiers and light infantry, as the ships came 
up, on this island, to the great joy of a most loyal people, 
long suffering on that account under the oppression of the 
rebels stationed among them ; who precipitately fled on the 
approach of the shipping. . . . There is great reason to ex- 
pect a numerous body of the inhabitants to join the army 
from the province of York, the Jerseys, and Connecticut, 
who, in this time of universal oppression, only wait for op- 
portunities to give proofs of their loyalty and zeal. ' ' * 

Washington beheld the gathering storm with an anxious 

* Governor Tryon, in a letter dated about this time from 
on board of the "Duchess of Gordon," off Staten Island, 
writes: ''The testimony given by the inhabitants of the isl- 
and, of loyalty to his majesty, and attachment to his gov- 
ernment, I flatter myself will be general throughout the 
province as soon as the army gets the main body of the reb- 
els between them and the sea; which will leave all the back 
country open to the command of the king's friends, and yield 
a plentiful resource of provisions for the army, and place 
them in a better situation to cut off the rebels' retreat when 
forced from their stronghold." — Am. Archives, 5th Series, 
i. 122. 

114 U/orl^s of lI/asl?ir><$tor> Iruip^ 

eye, aware that General Howe only awaited the arrival of 
his brother, the admiral, to commence hostile operations. 
He wrote to the President of Congress, urging a call on the 
Massachusetts government for its quota of Continental troops; 
and the formation of a flying camp of ten thousand men, to 
be stationed in the Jerseys, as a central force, ready to act 
in any direction as circimistances might require. 

On the 2d of July, he issued a general order, calling upon 
the troops to prepare for a momentous conflict which was to 
decide their liberties and fortimes. Those who should sig- 
nalize themselves by acts of bravery would be noticed and 
rewarded; those who proved craven would be exposed and 
punished. No favor would be shown to such as refused or 
neglected to do their duty at so important a crisis. 


First Appearance of Alexander Hamilton — His Early Days — Gen- 
eral Hugh Mercer in command of the Flying Camp — Declara- 
tion of Independence — Announced to the Army — Downfall of 
the King's Statue 

About this time we have the first appearance in the 
military ranks of the Revolution of one destined to take an 
active and distinguished part in public affairs; and to leave 
the impress of his genius on the institutions of the country. 

As General Greene one day, on his way to Washington's 
headquarters, was passing through a field — then on the out- 
skirts of the city, now in the heart of its busiest quarter, and 
known as "the Park" — he paused to notice a provincial 
company of artillery, and was struck with its able perform- 
ances, and with the tact and talent of its commander. He 
was a mere youth, apparently about twenty years of age ; 

Cife of U/a8l7ir><$toi> 115 

small in person and stature, but remarkable for his alert and 
manly bearing. It was Alexander Hamilton. 

Greene was an able tactician, and quick to appreciate any 
display of military science ; a little conversation sufficed to 
convince him that the youth before him had a mind of no 
ordinary grasp and quickness. He invited him to his quar- 
ters, and from that time cultivated his friendship. 

Hamilton was a native of the island of Nevis, in the West 
Indies, and at a very early age had been put in a counting • 
house at Santa Cruz. His nature, however, was aspiring. 
*'I contemn the groveling condition of a clerk to which my 
fortune condemns me," writes he to a youthful friend, **and 
would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to 
exalt my station. ... I mean to prepare the way for futu- 
rity. I am no philosopher, and may be justly said to build 
castles in the air; yet we have seen such schemes succeed, 
when the projector is constant. I shall conclude by saying, 
I wish there was a war. " 

Still he applied himself with zeal and fidelity to the duties 
of his station, and such were the precocity of his judgment 
and his aptness at accounts that, before he was fourteen 
years of age, he was left for a brief interval, during the ab- 
sence of the principal, at the head of the establishment. While 
his situation in the house gave him a practical knowledge of 
business and experience in finance, his leisure hours were de- 
voted to self-cultivation. He made himself acquainted with 
mathematics and chemistry, and indulged a strong propen- 
sity to literature. Some early achievements of his pen at- 
tracted attention and showed such proof of talent that it was 
determined to give him the advantage of a regular educa- 
tion. He was accordingly sent to Elizabethtown, in the 
Jerseys, in the autumn of 1772, to prepare, by a course of 

116 U/orl^s of U/as}?ir)^toi} Iruip^ 

studies, for admission into King's (now Columbia) College, 
at New York. He entered the college as a private student 
in the latter part of 1773, and endeavored, by diligent ap- 
plication, to fit himself for the medical profession. 

The contentions of the colonies with the mother country 
gave a different dii^ction and impulse to his ardent and as- 
piring mind. He soon signalized himself by the exercise of 
his pen, sometimes in a grave, sometimes in a satirical man- 
ner. On the 6th of July, 1774, there was a general meeting 
of the citizens in the "Fields," to express their abhorrence of 
the Boston Port Bill. Hamilton was present, and, prompted 
by his excited feelings and the instigation of youthful com- 
panions, ventured to address the multitude. The vigor and 
maturit}' of his intellect, contrasted with his youthful appear- 
ance, won the admiration of his auditors ; even his diminutive 
size gave additional effect to his eloquence. 

The war, for which in his boyish days he had sighed, was 
approaching. He now devoted himself to military studios, 
especially pyrotechnics and gunnery, and formed an ama- 
teur corps out of a number of his fellow-students and the 
young gentlemen of the city. In the month of March, 1776, 
he became captain of artillery in a provincial corps, newly 
raised, and soon, by able drilling, rendered it conspicuous 
for discipline. 

It was while exercising his artillery company that he 
attracted, as we have mentioned^ the attention of General 
Greene. Further acquaintance heightened the general's 
opinion of his extraordinary merits, and he took an early 
occasion to introduce him to the commander-in-chief, by 
whom we shall soon find him properly appreciated. 

A valuable accession to the army, at this anxious time, 
was WashingtoD's neighbor and former companion in arms, 

Cife of U/asl?ip^top 117 

Hugh Mercer, the veteran of Culloden and Fort Duquesne. 
His military spirit was alert as ever; the talent he had 
shown in organizing the Virginia militia, and his zeal and 
efficiency as a member of the committee of safety, had been 
properly appreciated by Congress, and on the 5th of June he 
had received the commission of brigadier-general. He was 
greeted by Washington with the right hand of fellowship. 
The flying camp was about forming. The committee of 
safety of Pennsylvania were forwarding some of the militia 
of that province to the Jerseys, to perform the service of the 
camp until the militia levies, specified by Congress, should 
arrive. "Washington had the nomination of some Continen- 
tal officer to the command. He gave it to Mercer, of whose 
merits he felt sure, and sent him over to Paulus Hook, in 
the Jerseys, to make arrangements for the Pennsylvania 
militia as they should come in ; recommending him to Briga- 
dier-general William Livingston as an officer on whose ex- 
perience and judgment great confidence might be reposed. 

Livingston was a man inexperienced in arms, but of edu- 
cation, talent, sagacity, and ready wit. He was of the New 
York family of the same name, but had resided for some 
time in the Jerseys, having a spacious mansion in Elizabeth- 
town, which he had named Liberty Hall. Mercer and he 
were to consult together, and concert plans to repel inva- 
sions; the New Jersey militia, however, were distinct from 
the flying camp, and only called out for local defense. New 
Jersey's greatest danger of invasion was from Staten Island, 
where the British were throwing up works, and whence they 
might attempt to cross to Amboy. The flying camp was 
therefore to be stationed in the neighborhood of that place. 

*'The known disaffection of the people of Amboy," writes 
Washington, "and the treachery of those on Staten Island, 

118 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir)<jtoi> Iruip<^ 

who, after the fairest professions, have shown themselves our 
most inveterate enemies, have induced me to give directions 
that all persons of known enmity and doubtful character 
should be removed from those places." 

According to General Livingston's humorous account, 
his own village of Elizabethtovvn was not much more reli- 
able, being peopled in those agitated times by '* unknown, 
unrecommended strangers, guilty-looking tories, and very 
knavish whigs." 

While danger was gathering round New York, and its 
inhabitants were in mute suspense and fearful anticipations, 
the General Congress at Philadelphia was discussing, with 
closed doors, what John Adams pronounced — *'The greatest 
question ever debated in America, and as great as ever was 
or will be debated among men." The result was a resolution 
passed unanimously, on the 2d of July, "that these United 
Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent 

*'The 2d of July," adds the same patriotic statesman, 
**will be the most memorable epoch in the history of 
America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated 
by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. 
It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by 
solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be 
solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, 
sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one 
end of this continent to the other, from this time forth for 

The glorious event has, indeed, given rise to an annual 
jubilee, but not on the day designated by Adams. The 
Fourth of July is the day of national rejoicing, for on that 
day the *' Declaration of Independence," that solemn and 

Cife of U/a8l?ir7(^toi> 119 

sublime document, was adopted. Tradition gives a dra- 
matic effect to its announcement. It was known to be 
under discussion, but the closed doors of Congress ex- 
cluded the populace. They awaited, in throngs, an ap- 
pointed signal. In the steeple of the state house was a 
bell, imported twenty -three years previously from London? 
by the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania. It bore the 
portentous text from Scripture: *' Proclaim liberty through- 
out all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." A joy- 
ous peal from that bell gave notice that the bill had been 
passed. It was the knell of British domination. 

No one felt the importance of the event more deeply than 
John Adams, for no one had been more active in producing 
it. We quote his words written at the moment: "When I 
look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument con- 
cerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I 
have hitherto considered as the commencement of the con- 
troversy between Great Britain and America, and run 
though the whole period from that time to this, and rec- 
ollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and 
effects; I am surprised at the suddenness, as well as the 
greatness of this Revolution ; Great Britain has been filled 
with folly, America with wisdom.'* 

His only regret was that the declaration of independence 
had not been made sooner. *'Had it been made seven months 
ago," said he, "we should have mastered Quebec, and been 
in possession of Canada, and might before this hour have 
formed alliances with foreign states. Many gentlemen in 
high stations and of great influence have been duped by the 
ministerial bubble of commissioners to treat, and have been 
slow and languid in promoting measures for the reduction of 
that province." 

130 U/orKs of U/a8l?iQ^toi) Iruir)^ 

Washington hailed the declaration with joy. It is true it 
was but a formal recognition of a state of things which had 
long existed, but it put an end to all those temporizing hopes 
of reconciliation which had clogged the military action of 
the country. 

On the 9th of July he caused it to be read at six o'clock 
in the evening, at the head of each brigade of the army, 
**The general hopes," said he in his orders, "that this im- 
portant event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer 
and soldier to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that 
now the peace and safety of his country depend, imder God, 
solely on the success of our arms ; and that he is now in the 
service of a state possessed of sufficient power to reward 
his merit, and advance him to the highest honors of a free 

The excitable populace of New York were not content 
with the ringing of bells to proclaim their joy. There was 
a leaden statue of George III. on the Bowling Green, in 
front of the fort. Since kingly rule is at an end, why retain 
its effigy? On the same evening, therefore, the statue was 
pulled down amid the shouts of the multitude, and broken 
up to be run into bullets *'to be used in the cause of in- 

Some of the soldiery having been implicated in this popu- 
lar effervescence, Washington censured it in general orders, 
as having much the appearance of a riot and a want of dis- 
cipline, and the army was forbidden to indulge in any ir- 
regularities of the kind. It was his constant effort to inspire 
his countrymen in arms with his own elevated idea of the 
cause in which they were engaged, and to make them feel 
that it was no ordinary warfare, admitting of vulgar pas- 
sions and perturbations. "The general hopes and trusts," 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toi) 121 

said he, **that every officer and man will endeavor so to live 
and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest 
rights and liberties of his country. 

?5 * 


Arrival of more Ships — Movements of the "Phoenix" and the 
"Rose" — Panic in the City — Hostile Ships up the Hudson — 
Stir of War along the River— General George Clinton, and the 
Militia of Ulster County— Fresh Agitation of New York— Ar- 
rival of Lord Howe 

The exultation of the patriots of New York, caused by 
the Declaration of Independence, was soon overclouded. On 
the 12th of July several ships stood in from sea and joined 
the naval force below. Every nautical movement was now 
a matter of speculation and alarm, and all the spyglasses in 
the city were incessantly reconnoitering the bay. 

'*The enemy are now in the harbor," writes an Ameri- 
can officer, *' although they have not yet ventured themselves 
within gunshot of the city, but we hourly expect to be called 
into action. The whole army is out between two and three 
every morning, at their respective alarm posts, and remain 
there until sunrise. I am morally certain that it will not be 
long before we have an engagement." 

Scarce had this letter been penned, when two ships of 
war were observed getting under way and standing toward 
the city. One was the *' Phoenix," of forty guns; the other 
the ^*Rose," of twenty guns, commanded by Captain "Wal- 
lace, of unenviable renown, who had marauded the !N"ew 
England coast, and domineered over Rhode Island. The 

"^ Orderly Book, July 9, Sparks, iii. 456. 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 6 

122 U/orl^s of U/a8l?i9<$toi> Iruip<$ 

troops were immediately at their alarm posts. It was about 
half-past three o'clock in the afternoon as the ships and three 
tenders came sweeping up the bay with the advantage of 
wind and tide, and shaped their course up the Hudson. The 
batteries of the city and of Paulus Hook, on the opposite Jer- 
sey shore, opened a fire upon them. They answered it with 
broadsides. There was a panic throughout the city. Women 
and children ran hither and thither about the streets, min- 
gling their shrieks and cries with the thundering of the can- 
non. "The attack has begun! The city is to be destroyed ! 
What will become of us?'' 

The "Phoenix" and the "Rose" continued their course 
up the Hudson. They had merely fired upon the batteries 
as they passed ; and on their own part had sustained but lit- 
tle damage, their decks having ramparts of sand-bags. The 
ships below remained in sullen quiet at their anchors, and 
showed no intention of following them. The firing ceased. 
The fear of a general attack upon the city died away, and 
the agitated citizens breathed more freely. 

Washington, however, apprehended this movement of the 
ships might be with a different object. They might be sent 
to land troops, and seize upon the passes of the Highlands. 
Forts Montgomery and Constitution were far from complete, 
and were scantily manned. A small force might be suffi- 
cient to surprise them. The ships might intend, also, to dis- 
tribute arms among the tories in the riv^er counties, and pre- 
pare them to co-operate in the apprehended attack upon New^ 

Thus thinking, the moment Washington saw these ships 
standing up the river, he sent off an express to put Genoral 
Mifflin on the alert, who was stationed with his Philadelphia 
troops at Fort Washington and King's Bridge. The sama 


Irving, Vol. Tliirteen, p. 115. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ<$toi> 123 

express carried a letter from him to the New York Conven- 
tion, at that time holding its sessions at White Plains, in 
"Westchester County, apprising it of the impending danger. 
His immediate solicitude was for the safety of Forts Con- 
stitution and Montgomery. 

Fortunately, George Clinton, the patriotic legislator, had 
recently been appointed brigadier-general of the militia of 
Ulster and Orange Counties. Called to his native State by 
his military duties in this time of danger, he had only re- 
mained in Congress to vote for the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, and then hastened home. He was now at New "Wind- 
sor, in Ulster County, just above the Highlands. Washington 
wrote to him on the afternoon of the 12th, urging him to col- 
lect as great a force as possible of the New York militia for 
the protection of the Highlands against this hostile irruption, 
and to solicit aid, if requisite, from the western parts of Con- 
necticut. "I have the strongest reason to believe," added 
he, **it will be absolutely necessary, if it were only to pre- 
vent an insurrection of your own tories." 

Long before the receipt of Washington's letter, Clinton 
i^ad been put on the alert. About nine o'clock in the morn- 
ing of the 13th an alarm gun from his brother at Fort Con- 
stitution thundered through the echoing defiles of the moun- 
tains. Shortly afterward two river sloops came to anchor 
above the Highlands, before the general's residence. Their 
captains informed him that New York had been attacked on 
the preceding afternoon. They had seen the cannonade 
from a distance, and judged from the subsequent firing 
that the enemy's ships were up the river as far as King's 

Clinton was as prompt a soldier as he had been an in- 
trepid legislator. The neighboring militia were forthwith 

124 U/orl^s of U/aslpiQ^top Iruip^ 

put in motion. Three regiments were ordered out; one was 
to repair to Fort Montgomery; another to Fort Constitution; 
the third to rendez^'ous at Newburg, just above the High- 
lands, ready to hasten to the assistance of Fort Constitution, 
should another signal be given. All the other regiments un- 
der his command were to be prepared for service at a mo- 
ment's notice. In ordering these hasty levies, however, he 
was as considerate as he was energetic. The colonels were 
directed to leave the frontier companies at home, to protect 
the coimtry against the Indians, and some men out of each 
company to guard against internal enemies. 

Another of his sagacious measures was to send expresses 
to all the owners of sloops and boats twenty miles up the 
west side of the river, to haul them off, so as to prevent their 
grounding. Part of them were to be ready to carry over the 
militia to the forts ; the rest were ordered down to Fort Con- 
stitution, where a chain of them might be drawn across the 
narrowest part of the river, to be set on fire, should the 
enemy's ships attempt to pass. 

Having made these prompt arrangements, he proceeded, 
early in the afternoon of the same day, with about forty of 
his neighbors, to Fort Constitution; whence, leaving some 
with his brother, he pushed down on the same evening to 
Fort Montgomery, where he fixed his headquarters, as being 
nearer the enemy, and better situated to discover their mo 

Here, on the following day (July 14), he received Wash- 
ington's letter, written two days previously ; but by this time 
he had anticipated its orders and stirred up the whole coun- 
try. On that same evening two or three hundred of the 
hardy Ulster yeomanry, roughly equipped, part of one of 
the regiments he had ordered out, marched into Fort Mont- 

Cife of U/ast^iQ^toi) 125 

gomery, headed by their colonel (WoodhuU). Early the 
next morning five hundred of another regiment arrived, 
and he was told that parts of two other regiments were on 
the way. 

**The men," writes he to Washington, *'turn out of their 
harvest fields to defend their country with surprising alac- 
rity. The absence of so many of them, however, at this 
time, when their harvests are perishing for want of the 
sickle, will greatly distress the country. I could wish, 
therefore, that a less number might answer the purpose." 

On no one could this prompt and brave gathering of the 
yeomanry produce a more gratifying effect than upon the 
commander-in-chief; and no one could be more feelingly 
alive, in the midst of stern military duties, to the appeal in 
behalf of the peaceful interests of the husbandman. 

While the vigilant Clinton was preparing to defend the 
passes of the Highlands, danger was growing more immi- 
nent at the mouth of the Hudson. 

New York has always been a city prone to agitations. 
That into which it was thrown on the afternoon of the 12th 
of July, by the broadsides of the *' Phoenix" and the *'Rose," 
was almost immediately followed by another. On the same 
evening there was a great booming of cannon, with clouds 
of smoke, from the shipping at anchor at Staten Island. 
Every spyglass was again in requisition. The British fleet 
were saluting a ship of the line, just arrived from sea. She 
advanced grandly, every man-of-war thundering a salute as 
she passed. At her foretop masthead she bore St. George's 
flag. "It is the admiral's ship!" cried the nautical men on 
the lookout at the Battery. "It is the admiral's ship I" was 
echoed from mouth to mouth, and the word soon flew 
throughout the city, "Lord How© is come!" 

126 U/orl^s of U/a8l7ip<$toi) Iruip<^ 


Precautions against Tories— Secret Committees — Declaration of 
Lord Howe — His Letter to the Colonial Governors — His Letter 
to Washington Rejected — Interview between the British Adju- 
tant-General and Colonel Reed — Reception of the Adjutant- 
General by Washington — The "Phoenix" and "Rose" in the 
Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay — Arming of the River Yeo- 
manry — George Clinton at the Gates of the Highlands 

Lord Howe was indeed come, and affairs now appeared 
to be approaching a crisis. In consequence of the recent 
conspiracy, the Convention of New York, seated at White 
Plains, in Westchester County, had a secret committee sta- 
tioned in New York, for the purpose of taking cognizance 
of traitorous machinations. To this committee Washington 
addressed a letter, the day after his lordship's arrival, sug- 
gesting the policy of removing from the city and its environs, 
'*all persons of known disaffection and enmity to the cause 
of America" ; especially those confined in jail for treasonable 
offenses ; who might become extremely dangerous in case of 
an attack and alarm. He took this step with great reluc- 
tance; but felt compelled to it by circumstances. The late 
conspiracy had shown him that treason might be lurking in 
his camp. And he was well aware that the city and the 
neighboring country, especially Westchester County, and 
Queen's and Suffolk Counties, on Long Island, abounded 
with * Tories," ready to rally under the royal standard 
whenever backed by a commanding force. 

In consequence of his suggestion, thirteen persons, in 
eonfinement for traitorous offenses, were removed to the 

Cife of U/asJ7ir>($fcor> 127 

jail of Litchfield, in Connecticut. Among the number was 
the late mayor ; but as his offense was not of so deep a dye 
as those whereof the rest stood charged, it was recommended 
by the President of the Convention that he should be treated 
with indulgence. 

The proceedings of Lord Howe soon showed the policy of 
these precautions. His lordship had prepared a declaration, 
addressed to the people at large, informing them of the pow- 
ers vested in his brother and himself as commissioners for 
restoring peace ; and inviting communities as well as individ- 
uals who, in the tumult and disasters of the times, had devi- 
ated from their allegiance to the crown, to merit and receive 
pardon, by a prompt return to their duty. It was added 
that proper consideration would be had of the services of 
all who should contribute to the restoration of public tran- 

His lordship really desired peace. According to a con- 
temporary, he came to America *'as a mediator, not as a 
destroyer," * and had founded great hopes in the efficacy of 
this document in rallying back the people to their allegiance ; 
it was a sore matter of regret to him, therefore, to find that, 
in consequence of his tardy arrival, his invitation to loyalty 
had been forestalled by the Declaration of Independence. 

Still it might have an effect in bringing adherents to the 
royal standard ; he sent a flag on shore, therefore, bearing a 
circular letter, written in his civil and military capacity, to 
the colonial governor, requesting him to publish his address 
to the people as widely as possible. 

We have heretofore shown the tenacity with which Wash- 

* Letter of Mr. Dennis de Berdt to Mr. Joseph Reed. 
Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 372. 

128 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^tor) lr{j\r)<^ 

ington, in his correspondence with Generals Gage and Howe, 
exacted the consideration and deference due to him as com- 
mander-in-chief of the American armies; he did this not 
from official pride and punctilio, but as the guardian of 
American rights and dignities. A further step of the kind 
was yet to be taken. The British officers, considering the 
Americans in arms rebels without valid commissions, were 
in the habit of denying them all military title. Washing- 
ton's general officers had urged him not to submit to this 
tacit indignity, but to reject all letters directed to him with- 
out a specification of his official rank. An occasion now pre- 
sented itself for the adjustment of this matter. Within a 
day or two an officer of the British navy. Lieutenant Brown, 
came with a flag from Lord Howe, seeking a conference 
with Washington. Colonel Reed, the adjutant-general, em- 
barked in a barge, and met him half way between Gov- 
ernor's and Staten Islands, The lieutenant informed him 
that he was the bearer of a letter from Lord Howe to Mr. 
Washington. Colonel Reed replied that he knew no such 
person in the American army. The lieutenant produced and 
offered the letter. It was addressed to George Washington, 
Esquire. He was informed that it could not be received 
with such a direction. The lieutenant expressed much con- 
cern. The letter, he said, was of a civil, rather than a mili- 
tary nature — Lord Howe regretted he had not arrived sooner 
— he had great powers — it was much to be wished the letter 
could be received. 

While the lieutenant was embarrassed and agitated. Reed 
maintained his coolness, politely declining to receive the let- 
ter, as inconsistent with his duty. They parted; but after 
the lieutenant had been rowed some little distance, his barge 
was put about, and Reed waited to hear what further he had 

Cife of U/a8l?fi>($tor> 129 

to say. It was to ask by what title General — but catching 
himself — Mr. Washington chose to be addressed. 

Reed replied that the general's station in the army was 
well known ; and they could not be at a loss as to the proper 
mode of addressing him, especially as this matter had been 
discussed in the preceding summer, of which, he presumed, 
the admiral could not be ignorant. The lieutenant again 
expressed his disappointment and regret, and their interview 

On the 19th an aid-de-camp of General Howe came with 
a flag, and requested to know, as there appeared to be an 
obstacle to a correspondence between the two generals, 
whether Colonel Patterson, the British adjutant-general, 
could be admitted to an interview with General Washington. 
Colonel Reed, who met the flag, consented in the name of 
the general, and pledged his honor for the safety of the 
adjutant-general during the interview, which was fixed for 
the following morning. 

At the appointed time, Colonel Reed and Colonel Webb, 
one of Washington's aides, met the flag in the harbor, took 
Colonel Patterson into their barge, and escorted him to town, 
passing in front of the grand battery. The customary pre- 
caution of blindfolding was dispensed with ; and there was 
a lively and sociable conversation the whole way. Wash- 
ington received the adjutant-general at headquarters with 
much form and ceremony, in full military array with his 
officers and guards about him. 

Colonel Patterson, addressing him by the title of your 
excellency, endeavored to explain the address of the letter 
as consistent with propriety, and founded on a similar ad- 
dress in the previous summer to General Howe. That Gen- 
eral Howe did not mean to derogate from the respect or rank 

130 U/orKs of U/a8l7ir)($toi) Iruir)($ 

of General Washington, but conceived such an address con- 
sistent with what had been used by embassadors or pleni- 
potentiaries where difficulties of rank had arisen. He then 
produced, but did not offer, a letter addressed to George 
Washington, Esquire, etc., etc., hoping that the et ceteras, 
which implied everything, would remove all impediments. 

Washington replied that it was true the et ceteras im- 
plied everything, but they also implied anything. His let- 
ter alluded to, of the previous summer, was in reply to one 
addressed in like manner. A letter, he added, addressed to 
a person acting in a public character, should have some 
inscriptions to designate it from a mere private letter; and 
he should absolutely decline any letter addressed to himself 
as a private person, when it related to his public station. 

Colonel Patterson, finding the letter would not be re- 
ceived, endeavored, as far as he could recollect, to com- 
municate the scope of it in the course of a somewhat desul- 
tory conversation. What he chiefly dwelt upon was that 
Lord Howe and his brother had been specially nominated 
commissioners for the promotion of peace, which was es- 
teemed a mark of favor and regard to America ; that they 
had great powers, and would derive the highest pleasure 
from effecting an accommodation ; and he concluded by add- 
ing that he wished his visit to be considered as making the 
first advance toward that desirable object. 

Washington replied that, by what had appeared (alluding, 
no doubt, to Lord Howe's circular), their powers, it would 
seem, were only to grant pardons. Now those who had 
committed no fault needed no pardon ; and such was the 
case with the Americans, who were only defending what 
they considered their indisputable rights. 

Colonel Patterson avoided a discussion of this matter, 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ<$toQ 131 

which, he observed, would open a very wide field; so here 
the conference, which had been conducted on both sides with 
great courtesy, terminated. The colonel took his leave, 
excusing himself from partaking of a collation, having made 
a late breakfast, and was again conducted to his boat. He 
expressed himself highly sensible of the courtesy of his treat- 
ment, in having the usual ceremony of blindfolding dispensed 

Washington received the applause of Congress and of the 
public for sustaining the dignity of his station. His conduct 
in this particular was recommended as a model to all Amer- 
ican officers in corresponding with the enemy; and Lord 
Howe informed his government that, thenceforward, it would 
be politic to change the superscription of his letters. 

In the meantime the irruption of the *' Phoenix" and the 
"Rose" into the waters of the Hudson had roused a belliger- 
ent spirit along its borders. The lower part of that noble 
river is commanded on the eastern side by the bold woody 
heights of Manhattan Island and Westchester County, and 
on the western side by the rocky cliffs of the Palisades. Be- 
yond those cliffs the river expands into a succession of what 
may almost be termed lakes; first the Tappan Sea, then 
Haverstraw Bay, then the Bay of Peekskill ; separated from 
each other by long stretching points, or high beetling prom- 
ontories, but affording ample sea room and safe anchorage. 
Then come the redoubtable Highlands, that strait, fifteen 
miles in length, where the river bends its course, narrow and 
deep, between rocky, forest-clad mountains. "He who has 
command of that grand defile," said an old navigator, *'may 
at any time throttle the Hudson." 

The !N"ew York Convention, aware of the impending 
danger, dispatched 'military envoys to stir up the yeomanry 

132 U/orl^s of lI/a8J?ir7<$tOQ lrv\r/<^ 

along the river, and order out militia. Powder ajid ball 
were sent to Tarrytown, before which the hostile ships were 
anchored, and yeoman troops were stationed there and along 
the neighboring shores of the Tappan Sea. In a little while 
the militia of Dutchess County and Cortlandt's Manor were 
hastening, rudely armed, to protect the public stores of Peek- 
skill, and mount guard at the entrance of the Highlands. 

No one showed more zeal in this time of alarm than Col- 
onel Pierre Van Cortlandt, of an old colonial family, which 
held its manorial residence at the mouth of the Croton. With 
his regiment he kept a dragon watch along the eastern shoro 
of the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay; while equal vigi 
lance was maintained night and day along the western shore, 
from Nyack quite up to the Dunderberg, by Colonel Hay 
and his regiment of Haverstraw. Sheep and cattle were 
driven inland, out of the reach of maraud. Sentinels were 
posted to keep a lookout from heights and headlands, and 
give the alarm should any boats approach the shore, and 
rustic marksmen were ready to assemble in a moment, 
and give them a warm reception. 

The ships of war which caused this alarm and turmoil 
lay quietly anchored in the broad expanse of the Tappan Sea 
and Haverstraw Bay; shifting their ground occasionally, 
and keeping out of musket-shot of the shore, apparently 
sleeping in the summer sunshine, with awnings stretched 
above their decks ; while their boats were out taking sound- 
ings quite up to the Highlands, evidently preparing for 
further operations. At night, too, their barges were heard 
rowing up and down the river on mysterious errands ; perri- 
augers, also, paid them furtive visits occasionally; it was 
surmised, with communications and supplies from tories on 

Cife of U/a8l7lr)<$tor> 133 

While the ships were anchored in Haverstraw Bay, one of 
the tenders stood into the Bay of Peekskill, and beat up within 
long shot of Fort Montgomery, where General George Clinton 
was ensconced with six hundred of the militia of Orange and 
Ulster Counties. As the tender approached, a thirty-two 
pounder was brought to range upon her. The ball passed 
through her quarter; whereupon she put about, and ran 
round the point of the Dunderberg, where the boat landed, 
plundered a solitary house at the foot of the mountain, and 
left it in flames. The marauders, on their way back to the 
ships, were severely galled by rustic marksmen from a neigh- 
boring promontory. 

The ships, now acquainted with the channel, moved up 
within six miles of Fort Montgomery. General Clinton 
apprehended they might mean to take advantage of a dark 
night, and slip by him in the deep shadows of the moun- 
tains. The shores were high and bold, the river was deep, 
the navigation of course safe and easy. Once above the 
Highlands, they might ravage the country beyond and 
destroy certain vessels of war which were being constructed 
at Poughkeepsie. 

To prevent this, he stationed a guard at night on the 
furthest point in view, about two miles and a half below 
the fort, prepared to kindle a blazing fire should the ships 
appear in sight. Large piles of dry brushwood mixed with 
combustibles were prepared at various places up and down 
the shore opposite to the fort, and men stationed to set fire 
to them as soon as a signal should be given from the lower 
point. The fort, therefore, while it remained in darkness, 
would have a fair chance with its batteries as the ships 
passed between it and these conflagrations. 

A private committee sent up by the New York Conven* 

134 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir)^tor> IruiQ<$ 

tion had a conference with the general, to devise further 
means of obstructing the passage of ships up the river. Fire- 
rafts were to be brought from Poughkeepsie, and kept at 
hand ready for action. These were to be lashed two to- 
gether, with chains, between old sloops filled with combust- 
ibles, and sent down with a strong wind and tide, to drive 
upon the ships. An iron chain, also, was to be stretched 
obliquely across the river from Fort Montgomery to the foot 
of Antony's Nose, thus, as it were, chaining up the gate of 
the Highlands. 

For a protection below the Highlands, it was proposed 
to station whale-boats about the coves and promontories of 
Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay ; to reconnoiter the enemy, 
cruise about at night, carry intelligence from post to post, 
seize any river craft that might bring the ships supplies, and 
cut off their boats when attempting to land. Galleys, also, 
were prepared, with nine-pounders mounted at the bows. 

Colonel Hay of Haverstraw, in a letter to "Washington, 
rejoices that the national Congress are preparing to protect 
this great highway of the country, and anticipates that the 
banks of the Hudson were about to become the chief theater 
of the war. 


The Van Cortlandt Family. — Two members of this 
old and honorable family were conspicuous patriots through- 
out the Revolution. Pierre Van Cortlandt, the father, at 
this time about fifty-six years of age, a stanch friend and 
ally of George Clinton, was member of the first Provincial 
Congress and president of the Committee of Public Safety. 
Governor Tryon had visited him in his old manor-house at 
the mouth of the Croton, in 1774, and made him offers of 
royal favors, honors, grants of land, etc., if he would aban- 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)<$too 135 

don the popular cause. His offers were nobly rejected. The 
Cortlandt family suffered in consequence, being at one time 
obliged to abandon their manorial residence; but the head 
remained true to the cause, and subsequently filled the ofiice 
of lieutenant-governor with great dignity. 

His son Pierre, mentioned in the above chapter, and then 
about twenty-seven years of age, had likewise resisted the 
overtures of Tryon, destroying a major's commission in the 
Cortlandt militia, which he sent him. Congress, in 1775, 
made him lieutenant-colonel in the Continental service, in 
which capacity we now find him, acquitting himself with 
zeal and ability. 


Question of Command between Gates and Schuyler — Condition of 
the Army at Crown Point — Discontent and Departure of Sulli- 
Tan — Fortifications at Ticonderoga — The Question of Command 
Adjusted — Secret Discontents — Sectional Jealousies in the 
Army — Southern Troops — Small wood's Macaroni Battalion — 
Connecticut Light-Horse 

While the security of the Hudson from invading ships 
was claiming the attention of Washington, he was equally 
anxious to prevent an irruption of the enemy from Canada. 
He was grieved, therefore, to find there was a clashing of 
authority between the generals who had charge of the N"orth- 
ern frontier. Gates, on his way to take command of the 
army in Canada, had heard with surprise in Albany of its 
retreat across the New York frontier. He still considered 
it under his orders, and was proceeding to act accordingly ; 
when General Schuyler observed that the resolution of Con- 
gress and the instructions of Washington applied to the 
army only while in Canada; the moment it retreated within 

136 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir?^tor) Iruir?^ 

tlie limits of !N"ew York it came within his (Schuyler's) com- 
mand. A letter from Schuyler to Washington, written at 
the time, says: ''If Congress intended that General Gates 
should command the Northern army, wherever it may be, 
as he assures me they did, it ought to have been signified to 
me, and I should then have immediately resigned the com- 
mand to him; but until such intention is properly conveyed 
to me, I never can. I must, therefore, entreat your Excel- 
lency to lay this letter before Congress, that they may clearly 
and explicitly signify their intentions, to avert the dangers 
and evils that may arise from a disputed command,'' 

That there might be no delay in the service at this critical 
juncture, the two generals agreed to refer the question of 
command to Congress, and in the meantime to act in concert. 
They accordingly departed together for Lake Champlain, 
to prepare against an anticipated invasion by Sir Guy Carle- 
ton. They arrived at Crown Point on the 6th of July, and 
found there the wrecks of the army recently driven out of 
Canada. They had been harassed in their retreat by land^ 
their transportation on the lake had been in leaky boats 
without awnings, where the sick, suffering from smallpox, 
lay on straw, exposed to a burning July sun ; no food but 
salt pork, often rancid, hard biscuit or unbaked flour, and 
scarcely any medicine. !N"ot more than six thousand men 
had reached Crown Point, and half of those were on the sick 
list ; the shattered remains of twelve or fifteen very fine bat- 
talions. Some few were sheltered in tents, some under sheds, 
and others in huts hastily formed of bushes ; scarce one of 
which but contained a dead or dying man. Two thousand 
eight hundred were to be sent to a hospital recently estab- 
lished at the south end of Lake George, a distance of fifty 
miles; when they were gone, with those who were to row 

Cife of \]JzB\)'ir)qtoT) 137 

them in boats, there would remain but the shadow of an 
army. * 

In a council of war, it was determined that, under pres- 
ent circumstances, the post of Crown Point was not tenable ; 
neither was it capable of being made so this summer, with- 
out a force greatly superior to any they might reasonably 
expect; and that, therefore, it was expedient to fall back, 
and take a strong position at Ticonderoga. General Sullivan 
had been deeply hurt that Gates, his former inferior in rank, 
should have been appointed over him to the command of the 
army in Canada; considering it a tacit intimation that Con- 
gress did not esteem him competent to the trust which had 
devolved upon him. He now, therefore, requested leave of 
absence, in order to wait on the commander in-chief. It was 
granted with reluctance. Before departing, he communi- 
cated to the army, through General Schuyler, his high and 
grateful sense of their exertions in securing a retreat from 
Canada, and the cheerfulness with which his commands had 
been received and obeyed. 

On the 9th of July, Schuyler and Gates returned to 
Ticonderoga, accompanied by Arnold. Instant arrange- 
ments were made to encamp the troops, and land the artillery 
and stores as fast as they should arrive. Great exertions, 
also, were made to strengthen the defenses of the place. 
Colonel John Trumbull, who was to have accompanied 
Gates to Canada, as adjutant-general, had been reconnoiter- 
ing the neighborhood of Ticonderoga, and had pitched upon 
a place for a fortification on the eastern side of the lake, 
directly opposite the east point of Ticonderoga, where Fort 
Independence was subsequently built. He also advised the 

* Colonel John Trumbull's Autobiography, p. 285, Ap- 

l38 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir)^tor) Iruir)^ 

erection of a work on a lofty eminence, the termination of 
a mountain ridge, which separates Lake George from Lake 
Champlain. His advice was unfortunately disregarded. 
The eminence, subsequently called Mount Defiance, looked 
down upon and commanded the narrow parts of both lakes. 
We shall hear more of it hereafter. 

Preparations were made, also, to augment the naval force 
on the lakes. Ship carpenters from the Eastern States were 
employed at Skenesborough to build the hulls of galleys and 
boats, which, when launched, were to be sent down to Ticon- 
deroga for equipment and armament, under the superintend- 
ence of General Arnold. 

Schuyler soon returned to Albany, to superintend the 
general concerns of the Northern department. He was in- 
defatigable in procuring and forwarding the necessary 
materials and artillery for the fortification of Ticonderoga. 

The question of command between him and Gates was 
apparently at rest. A letter from the President of Congress, 
dated July 8, informed General Gates that according to the 
resolution of that body under which he had been appointed, 
his command was totally independent of General Schuyler, 
while the army was in Canada, but no longer. Congress 
had no design to divest General Schuyler of the command 
while the troops were on this side of Canada. 

To Schuyler, under the same date, the president writes : 
"The Congress highly approve of your patriotism and mag- 
nanimity in not suffering any difference of opinion to hurt 
the public service. 

*' A mutual confidence and good understanding are at this 
time essentially necessary, so that I am persuaded they will 
take place on all occasions between yourself and General 

Cife of U/a8l?ip<$toi> 139 

Gates professed himself entirely satisfied with the ex- 
planation he had received, and perfectly disposed to obey 
the commands of Schuyler. *'I am confident," added he, 
*'we shall, as the Congress wish, go hand in hand to promote 
the public welfare." 

Schuyler, too, assured both Congress and Washington, 
**that the difference in opinion between Gates and himself 
had not caused the least ill will, nor interrupted that harmony 
necessary to subsist between their officers." 

Samuel Adams, however, who was at that time in Con- 
gress, had strong doubts in the matter. 

*' Schuyler and Gates are to command the troops," writes 
he, *'the former while they are without, the latter while they 
are within, the bounds of Canada. Admitting these gen- 
erals to have the accomplishments of a Marlborough, or a 
Eugene, I cannot conceive that such a disposition of them 
will be attended with any good effects, unless harmony sub- 
sists between them. Alas ! 1 fear this is not the case. Al- 
ready disputes have arisen, which they have referred to 
Congress ; and, although they affect to treat each other with 
a politeness becoming their rank, in my mind altercations 
between commanders who have pretensions nearly equal 
(I mean in point of command), forebode a repetition of mis- 
fortune. I sincerely wish my apprehensions may prove 
groundless." * 

We have a letter before us, also, written to Gates by his 
friend Joseph Trumbull, commissary-general, on whose ap- 
pointment of a deputy the question of command had arisen. 
Trumbull's letter was well calculated to inflame the jealousy 
of Gates. *'I find you are in a cursed situation," writes he: 

* S. Adams to R. H. Lee. Am. Archives, 5th Series, 
i. 347. 

140 U/orKs of U/asJ^io^toi) Iruir}<$ 

**jour authority at an end; and commanded by a person 
who ^vill be willing to have you knocked in the head, as 
General Montgomery was, if he can have the money chest 
in his power. ' ' 

Governor Trumbull, too, the father of the commissary- 
general, observes subsequently : **It is justly to be expected 
that General Gates is discontented ^vith his situation, finding 
himself limited and removed from command, to be a wretched 
spectator of the ruin of the army, without power of attempt- 
ing to save them.'' * AYe shall have frequent occasion 
hereafter to notice the discord in the service caused by this 
rankling discontent. 

As to General Sullivan, who repaired to Philadelphia and 
tendered his resignation, the question of rank which had 
aggrieved him was explained in a manner that induced him 
to continue in service. It was universally allowed that his 
retreat had been ably conducted through all kinds of diffi- 
culties and disasters. 

A greater source of solicitude to "Washington than this 
jealousy between commanders was the sectional jealousy 
springing up among the troops. In a letter to Schuyler 
(July 17), he says, "I must entreat your attention to do 
away the unhappy and pernicious distinctions and jealousies 
between the troops of different governments. Enjoin this 
upon the officers, and let them inculcate and press home to 
the soldiery the necessity of order and harmony among those 
who are embarked in one common cause, and mutually con- 
tending for all that freemen hold dear." 

Nowhere were these sectional jealousies more prevalent 
than in the motley army assembled from distant quarters 

* Gov. Trumbull to Mr. William Williams. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 141 

under "Washington's own command. Reed, the adjutant- 
general, speaking on this subject, observes: '*The Southern 
troops, comprising the regiments south of the Delaware, 
looked with very unkind feelings on those of New England; 
especially those from Connecticut, whose peculiarities of 
deportment made them the objects of ill-disguised derision 
among their fellow-soldiers. ' ' * 

Among the troops thus designated as Southern were 
some from Virginia under a Major Leitch; others from 
Maryland, under Colonel Small wood ; others from Delaware, 
led by Colonel Haslet. There were four Continental bat- 
talions from Pennsylvania, commanded by Colonels Shee, 
St. Clair, "Wayne, and Magaw; and provincial battalions, 
two of which were severally commanded by Colonels Miles 
and Atlee. The Continental battalion under Colonel Shee 
was chiefly from the city of Philadelphia, especially the 
officers ; among whom were Lambert Cadwalader and Wil- 
liam Allen, members of two of the principal and most aristo- 
cratic families, and Alexander Gra3^don, to whose memoirs 
we are indebted for some graphic pictures of the times. 

These Pennsylvania troops were under the command of 
Brigadier-general Mifflin, who, in the preceding year, had 
acted as Washington's aid-de-camp, and afterward as quarter- 
master-general. His townsman and intimate, Graydon, 
characterizes him as a man of education and cultivated man- 
ners, with a great talent at haranguing ; highly animated in 
his appearance, full of activity and apparently of fire; but 
rather too much of a bustler, harassing his men unneces- 
sarily. **He assumed," adds Graydon, **a little of the vet- 
eran, from having been before Boston." His troops were 

Life of Reed, vol. i., p. 239. 

142 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ii><$i:or> Iruir?^ 

chiefly encamped near King's Bridge, and employed in con- 
structing works at Fort Washington. 

Small wood's Maryland battalion was one of the brightest 
in point of equipment. The scarlet and buff uniforms of 
those Southerners contrasted vividly with the rustic attire 
of the yeoman battalions from the East. Their officers, too, 
looked down upon their Connecticut compeers, who could 
only be distinguished from their men by wearing a cockade. 
'* There were none," says Graydon, '*by whom an unofficer- 
like appearance and deportment could be tolerated less than 
by a city-bred Marylander; who, at this time, was distin- 
guished by the most fashionable cut coat, the most macaroni 
cocked hat, and hottest blood in the Union." Alas, for the 
homespun-clad officers from Connecticut River ! 

The Pennsylvania regiment under Shee, according to 
Graydon, promoted balls and other entertainments, in con- 
tradistinction to the fast-days and sermons borrowed from 
New England. There was nothing of the puritanical spirit 
among the Pennsylvanian soldiery. 

In the same sectional spirit, he speaks of the Connecticut 
light-horse: '* Old-fashioned men, truly irregulars; whether 
their clothing, equipments, or caparisons were regarded, it 
would have been difficult to have discovered any circum- 
stance of uniformity. Instead of carbines and sabers, they 
generally carried fowling-pieces, some of them very long, 
such as in Pennsylvania are used for shooting ducks. Here 
and there one appeared in a dingy regimental of scarlet, with 
a triangular, tarnished, laced hat. These singular dragoons 
were volunteers, who came to make a tender of their services 
to the commander-in-chief. But they stayed not long in 
New York. As such a body of cavalry had not been counted 
upon, there was in all probability a want of forage for their 

Cife of U/a8l7ir)($toi> 143 

jades ^ which, in the spirit of ancient knighthood, they ab- 
solutely refused to descend from ; and as the general had no 
use for cavaliers in his insular operations, they were forth- 
with dismissed, with suitable acknowledgments for their 
truly chivalrous ardor."* 

The troops thus satirized were a body of between four 
and five hundred Connecticut light-horse, under Colonel 
Thomas Seymour. On an appeal for aid to the governor 
of their State, they had voluntarily hastened on in advance 
of the militia to render the most speedy succor. Supposing, 
from the suddenness and urgency of the call upon their ser- 
vices, that they were immediately to be called into action and 
promptly to return home, they had come on in such haste 
that many were unprovided even with a blanket or a change 
of clothing. 

Washington speaks of them as being for the most part, if 
not all, men of reputation and property. They were, in fact, 
mostly farmers. As to their sorry jades ^ they were rough 
country horses, such as farmers keep, not for show, but ser- 
vice. As to their dingy regimentals, we quote a word in 
their favor from a writer of that day. "Some of these 
worthy soldiers assisted in their present imiforms at the re- 
duction of Louisburg, and their *lank cheeks and war-worn 
coats' are viewed with more veneration by their honest coun- 
trymen than if they were glittering nabobs from India or 
bashaws with nine tails." f 

On arriving, their horses, from scarcity of forage, had to 
be pastured about King's Bridge. In fact, Washington in- 
formed them that, under present circumstances, they could 

* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 155. 

f Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 175. 

144 U/orl^8 of U/asl^io^toi) Iruir>^ 

not be of use as horsemen ; on which they concluded to stay 
and do duty on foot till the arrival of the new levies.* 

In a letter to Governor Trumbull (July 11th), Washington 
observes: ''The officers and men of that corps have mani- 
fested so firm an attachment to the cause we are engaged 
in that they have consented to remain here till such a body 
of troops are marched from your colony as will be a sufficient 
re-enforcement, so as to admit of their leaving this city with 
safety. . . . They have the additional merit of determining 
to stay, even if they are obliged to maintain their horses at 
their own expense. " t 

In a very few days, however, the troopers, on being re- 
quested to mount guard like other soldiers, grew restless 
and uneasy. Colonel Seymour and his brother field officere, 
therefore, addressed a note to Washington, stating that, by 
the positive laws of Connecticut, the light-horse were ex- 
pressly exempted from staying in garrison, or doing duty on 
foot, apart from their horses; and that they found it impos- 
sible to detain their men any longer under that idea, they 
having come ''without the least expectation or preparation 
for such services." They respectfully, therefore, asked a 
dismission in form. Washington's brief reply shows that 
he was nettled by their conduct. 

"Gentlemen — In'answer to yours of this date, I can only 
repeat to you what I said last night, and that is, that if your 
men think themselves exempt from the common duty of a 
soldier — will not mount guard, do garrison duty, or service 
separate from their horses — they can no longer be of any use 

* Webb to Gov. Trumbull. 

f Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 192. 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($too 145 

here, where horses cannot be brought to action, and I do not 
care how soon they are dismissed." 

In fact, the assistance of these troops was much needed; 
yet he apprehended the exemption from fatigue and garrison 
duty which they demanded as a right, would, if granted, set 
a dangerous example to others, and be productive of many 
evil consequences. 

In the hurry of various concerns he directed his aid-de- 
camp, Colonel Webb, to write in his name to Governor 
Trumbull on the subject. 

Colonel Seymour, on his return home, addressed a long 
letter to the governor explanatory of his conduct. '*I can't 
help remarking to your honor," adds he, **that it may with 
truth be said General "Washington is a gentleman of extreme 
care and caution: that his requisitions for men are fully 
equal to the necessities of the case. ... I should have 
stopped here, but am this moment informed that Mr. Webb, 
General Washington's aid-de-camp, has written to your honor 
something dishonorable to the light-horse. Whatever it may 
be I know not, but this I do know, that it is a general obser- 
vation, both in camp and country, if the butterflies and cox- 
combs were away from the army we should not be put to so 
much difficulty in obtaining men of common sense to engage 
in the defense of their country." * 

As to the Connecticut infantry which had been furnished 
by Governor Trumbull in the present emergency, they like- 
wise were substantial farmers, whose business, he observed, 
would require their return when the necessity of their further 
stay in the army should be over. They were all men of sim- 
ple rural manners, from an agricultural State, where great 

* Am. Archives, oth Series, i. 513. 
Vol. XIII.— ***7 

l46 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruii>^ 

equality of condition prevailed ; the officers were elected by 
the men out of their own ranks, they were their own neigh- 
bors, and every way their equals. All this, as yet, was but 
little understood or appreciated by the troops from the South, 
among whom military rank was more defined and tena- 
ciously observed, and where the officers were men of the 
cities and of more aristocratic habits. 

We have drawn out from contemporary sources these few 
particulars concerning the sectional jealousies thus early 
springing up among the troops from the different States, to 
show the difficulties with which Washington had to contend 
at the outset, and which formed a growing object of solici- 
tude throughout the rest of his career. 

John Adams, speaking of the violent passions and dis- 
cordant interests at work throughout the country, from 
Florida to Canada, observes: **It requires more serenity of 
temper, a deeper understanding, and more courage than fell 
to the lot of Marlborough, to ride in this whirlwind." * 


Southern Cruise of Sir Henry Clinton — Fortifications at Charleston 
— Arrival there of General Lee — Battle at Sullivan's Island — 
Washington announces the result to the Army 

Letters from General Lee gave Washington intelligence 
of the fate of Sir Henry Clinton's expedition to the South; 
that expedition which had been the subject of so much sur- 
mise and perplexity. Sir Henry, in his cruise along the 
coast, had been repeatedly foiled by Lee. First, as we have 
shown, when he looked in at New York; next, when he 

* Am. Archives, 4th Series, v. 1112. 

Cife of lI/asl7ii7<5tor7 147 

paused at Norfolk, in Virginia; and lastly, when he made 
a bold attempt at Charleston, in South Carolina; for scarce 
did his ships appear off the harbor than the omnipresent Lee 
was marching his troops into the city. 

Within a year past, Charleston had been fortified at 
various points. Fort Johnson, on James Island, three miles 
from the city, and commanding the breadth of the channel, 
was garrisoned by a regiment of South Carolina regulars 
under Colonel Gadsden. A strong fort had recently been 
constructed nearly opposite, on the southwest point of Sulli- 
van's Island, about six miles below the city. It was mounted 
with twenty-six guns, and garrisoned by three hundred and 
seventy-five regulars and a few militia, and commanded by 
Colonel William Moultrie, of South Carolina, who had con- 
structed it. This fort, in connection with that on James 
Island, was considered the key of the harbor. 

Cannon had also been mounted on Haddrell's Point, on 
the mainland, to the northwest of Sullivan's Island, and 
along the bay in front of the town. 

The arrival of General Lee gave great joy to the people 
of Charleston, from his high reputation for military skill and 
experience. According to his own account, in a letter to 
Washington, the town on his arrival was "utterly defense- 
less." He was rejoiced, therefore, when the enemy, instead 
of immediately attacking it, directed his whole force against 
the fort on Sullivan's Island. "He has lost an opportu- 
nity," said Lee, "such as I hope will never occur again, of 
taking the town." 

The British ships, in fact, having passed the bar with 
some difficulty, landed their troops on Long Island, situated 
to the east of Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by a 
small creek called the Breach. Sir Henry Clinton meditated 

148 U/orl^s of \]Ja&\}ir)(^tOT) Iruip9 

a combined attack with his land and naval forces on the fort 
commanded by Moultrie ; the capture of which, he thought, 
would insure the reduction of Charleston. 

The Americans immediately threw up works on the north- 
eastern extremity of Sullivan's Island to prevent the passage 
of the enemy over the Breach, stationing a force of regulars 
and militia there, under Colonel Thompson. General Lee 
encamped on Haddrell's Point, on the mainland, to the north 
of the island, whence he intended to keep up a communica- 
tion by a bridge of boats, so as to be ready at any moment 
to aid either Moultrie or Thompson. 

Sir Henry Clinton, on the other hand, had to construct 
batteries on Long Island, to oppose those of Thompson, and 
cover the passage of his troops by boats or by the ford. 
Thus time was consumed, and the enemy were, from the 
1st to the 28th of June, preparing for the attack; their 
troops suffering from the intense heat of the sun on the 
burning sands of Long Island, and both fleet and army com- 
plaining of brackish water and scanty and bad provisions. 

At length, on the 28th of June, the '* Thunder Bomb'' 
commenced the attack, throwing shells at the fort, as the 
fleet, under Sir Peter Parker, advanced. About eleven 
o'clock the ships dropped their anchors directly before the 
front battery. **I was at this time in a boat," writes Lee, 
*' endeavoring to make the island; but the wind and tide be- 
ing violently against us, drove us on the main. They imme- 
diately commenced the most furious fire I ever heard or saw. 
I confess I was in pain, from the Uttle confidence I reposed 
in our troops; the officers being all boys, and the men raw 
recruits. What augmented my anxiety was that we had no 
bridge finished for retreat or communication; and the creek 
or cove which separates it from the continent is near a mile 

Cife of U/aslpiQ^toQ 149 

wide. I had received, likewise, intelligence that their land 
troops intended at the same time to land and assault. I 
never in my life felt myself so uneasy ; and what added to 
my uneasiness was that I knew our stock of ammunition was 
miserably low. I had once thought of ordering the com- 
manding officer to spike his guns, and, when his ammuni- 
tion was spent, to retreat with as little loss as possible. 
However, I thought proper previously to send to town for 
a fresh supply, if it could possibly be procured, and ordered 
my aid-de-camp, Mr. Byrd (who is a lad of magnanimous 
courage), to pass over in a small canoe and report the state 
of the spirit of the garrison. If it had been low, I should 
have abandoned all thoughts of defense. His report was 
flattering. I then determined to maintain the post at all 
risks, and passed the creek or cove in a small boat, in order 
to animate the garrison in propria persona ; but I found they 
had no occasion for such an encouragement. 

*'They were pleased with my visit, and assured me they 
never would abandon the post but with their lives. The cool 
courage they displayed astonished and enraptured me, for I 
do assure you, my dear general, I never experienced a better 
fire. Twelve full hours it was continued without intermis 
sion. The noble fellows who were mortally wounded con- 
jured their brethren never to abandon the standard of lib- 
erty. Those who lost their limbs deserted not their posts. 
Upon the whole, they acted like Romans in the third cent- 

Much of the foregoing is corroborated by the statement 
of a British historian. '* While the continued fire of our 
ships," writes he, '* seemed sufficient to shake the fierceness 
of the bravest enemy and daunt the courage of the most vet- 
eran soldier, the return made by the fort could not fail call- 

150 U/or^s of U/a8l?ii)^toi> Iruip^ 

ing for the respect, as well as of highly incommoding the 
brave seamen of Britain. In the midst of that dreadful roar 
of artillery they stuck with the greatest constancy and firm- 
ness to their guns ; fired deliberately and slowly, and took a 
cool and effective aim. The ships suffered accordingly ; they 
were torn almost to pieces, and the slaughter was dreadful. 
Never did British valor shine more conspicuous, and never 
did our marine in an engagement of the same nature with 
any foreign enemy experience so rude an encounter." * 

The fire from the ships did not produce the expected 
effect. The fortifications were low, composed of earth and 
palmetto wood, which is soft, and makes no splinters, and 
the merlons were extremely thick. At one time there was 
a considerable pause in the American fire, and the enemy 
thought the fort was abandoned. It was only because the 
powder was exhausted. As soon as a supply could be for- 
warded from the mainland by General Lee, the fort resumed 
its fire with still more deadly effect. Through unskillful 
pilotage, several of the ships ran aground, where one, the 
iVigate *'Actseon," remained; the rest were extricated with 
difficulty. Those which bore the brunt of the action were 
much cut up. One hundred and seventy-five men were 
killed, and nearly as many wounded. Captain Scott, com- 
manding the ''Experiment,'* of fifty guns, lost an arm, and 
was otherwise wounded. Captain Morris, commanding the 
*'Actseon," was slain. So also was Lord Campbell, late 
governor of the province, who served as a volunteer on 
board of the squadron. 

Sir Henry Clinton, with two thousand troops and five or 
six hundred seamen, attempted repeatedly to cross from 

* Hist. Civil War in America. Dublin, 1779. Annual 

Cife of U/as\}\T)<^toT) 151 

Long Island and co-operate in the attack upon tlie fort, 
but was as often foiled by Colonel Thompson, with his bat- 
tery of two cannons and a body of South CaroHna rangers 
and North Carolina regulars. *'Upon the whole," says Lee, 
*'the South and North Carolina troops and Virginia rifle bat- 
talion we have here are admirable soldiers." 

The combat slackened before sunset, and ceased before 
ten o'clock. Sir Peter Parker, who had received a severe 
contusion in the engagement, then slipped his cables and 
drew off his shattered ships to Five Fathom Hole. The 
*'Actseon" remained aground. 

On the following morning Sir Henry Clinton made an- 
other attempt to cross from Long Island to Sullivan's Isl- 
and; but was again repulsed, and obliged to take shelter 
behind his breastworks. Sir Peter Parker, too, giving up 
all hope of reducing the fort in the shattered condition of his 
ships, ordered that the ''Actseon" should be set on fire and 
abandoned. The crew left her in flames, with the guns 
loaded and the colors flying. The Americans boarded her 
in time to haul down her colors and secure them as a trophy, 
discharge her guns at one of the enemy's ships, and load 
three boats with stores. They then abandoned her to her 
fate, and in half an hour she blew up. 

Within a few days the troops were re-embarked from 
Long Island; the attempt upon Charleston was for the pres- 
ent abandoned, and the fleet once more put to sea. 

In this action, one of the severest in the whole course of 
the war, the loss of the Americans in killed and wounded 
was but thirty-five men. Colonel Moultrie derived the great- 
est glory from the defense of Sullivan's Island ; though the 
thanks of Congress were voted as well to General Lee, 
Colonel Thompson, and those under their command. 

152 U/orKs of U/asl^io^tOQ IruiQ<$ 

**For God's sake, my dear general," writes Lee to "Wash- 
ington, "urge the Congress to furnish me with a thousand 
cavab'y. "With a thousand cavalry I could insure the safety 
of these Southern provinces; and without cavalry I can an» 
swer for nothing. From want of this species of troops we 
had infallibly lost this capital, bu.t the dilatoriness and stu- 
pidity of the enemy saved us." 

The tidings of this signal repulse of the enemy came most 
opportunely to "Washington, when he was apprehending an 
attack upon New York. He writes in a familiar vein to 
Schuyler on the subject. **Sir Peter Parker and his fleet 
got a severe drubbing in an attack upon our works on Sulli- 
van's Island, just by Charleston, in South Carolina; a part 
of their troops at the same tune, in attempting to land, were 
repulsed." He assumed a different tone in announcing it to 
the army in a general order of the 21st July. *'This gener° 
ous example of our troops under the like circumstances with 
us, the general hopes, will animate ever}" officer and soldier 
to imitate, and even outdo them, when the enemy shall make 
the same attempt on us. "With such a bright example before 
us of what can be done by brave men fighting in defense of 
their country, we shall be loaded with a double share of 
shame and infamy if we do not acquit ourselves with cour- 
age, and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die.*' 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 153 


Putnam's Military Projects — Chevaux-de-frise at Fort Washington 
— Meditated Attack on Staten Island — Arrival of Ships — Hes- 
sian Re-enforcements — Scotch Highlanders — Sir Henry Clin- 
ton and Lord Cornwallis — Putnam's Obstructions of the Hud- 
son — The "Phoenix" and "Rose" attacked by Row Galleys at 
Tarrytown — General Order of Washington on the subject of 
Sectional Jealousies — Profane Swearing prohibited in the Camp 
— Preparations against Attack — Levies of Yeomanry — George 
Clinton in Command of the Levies along the Hudson — Alarms 
of the People of New York — Benevolent Sympathy of Wash- 
ington—The "Phoenix" Grappled by a Fire-Ship— The Ships 
Evacuate the Hudson 

General Putnam, besides his bravery in the field, was 
somewhat of a mechanical projector. The batteries at Fort 
Washington had proved ineffectual in opposing the passage 
of hostile ships up the Hudson. He was now engaged on a 
plan for obstructing the channel opposite the fort, so as to 
prevent the passing of any more ships. A letter from him 
to General Gates (July 26th) explains his project. *'We are 
preparing chevaux-de-frise, at which we make great dispatch 
by the help of ships, which are to be sunk — a scheme of mine 
which you may be assured is very simple ; a plan of which 1 
send you. The two ships' sterns lie toward each other, about 
seventy feet apart. Three large logs, which reach from ship 
to ship, are fastened to them. The two ships and logs stop 
the river two hundred and eighty feet. The ships are to be 
sunk, and when hauled down on one side the pricks will be 
raised to a proper height, and they must inevitably stop the 
river, if the enemy will let us sink them." 

It so happened that one Ephraim Anderson, adjutant to 

154 U/orl^s of U/asl7ip<$tor> Iruir?^ 

the second Jersey battalion, had recently submitted a project 
to Congress for destroying the enemy's fleet in the harbor of 
New York. He had attempted an enterprise of the kind 
against the British ships in the harbor of Quebec during the 
siege, and, according to his own account, would have suc- 
ceeded, had not the enemy discovered his intentions and 
stretched a cable across the mouth of the harbor, and had 
he not accidentally been much burned. 

His scheme was favorably entertained by Congress, and 
Washington, by a letter dated July 10th, was instructed to 
aid him in carrying it into effect. Anderson, accordingly, 
was soon at work at New York constructing fire-ships, with 
which the fleet was to be attacked. Simultaneous with the 
attack, a descent was to be made on the British camp on 
Staten Island, from the nearest point of the Jersey shore, by 
troops from Mercer's flying camp, and by others stationed 
at Bergen under Major Knowlton, Putnam's favorite officer 
for daring enterprises. 

Putnam entered into the scheme as zealously as if it had 
been his own. Indeed by the tenor of his letter to Gates, 
already quoted, he seemed almost to consider it so. "The 
enemy's fleet," writes he, "now lies in the bay, close luider 
Staten Island. Their troops possess no land here but the 
island. Is it not strange that those invincible troops, who 
were to lay waste all this country with their fleets and army, 
are so fond of islands and peninsulas, and dare not put their 
feet on the main? But I hope, by the blessing of God, and 
good friends, we shall pay them a visit on their island. For 
that end we are preparing fourteen fire-ships, to go into their 
fleet, some of which are ready charged and fitted to sail, and 
I hope soon to have them all fixed." 

Anderson, also, on the 31st July, writes from New York 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ<$tor> 155 

to the President of Congress: **I have been for some time 
past very assiduous in the preparation of fire-ships. Two 
are already complete, and hauled off into the stream; two 
more will be off to-morrow, and the residue in a very short 
time. In my next, I hope to give you a particular account 
of a general conflagration, as everything in my power shall 
be exerted for the demolition of the enemy's fleet. I expect 
to take an active part, and be an instrument for that pur- 
pose. I am determined (God willing) to make a conspicuous 
figure among them, by being a 'burning and shining light,' 
and thereby serve my country, and have the honor of meet- 
ing the approbation of Congress." * 

Projectors are subject to disappointments. It was impos- 
sible to construct a sufficient nimaber of fire-ships and galleys 
in time. The flying camp, too, recruited but slowly, and 
scarcely exceeded three thousand men; the combined attack 
by fire and sword had therefore to be given up, and the 
"burning and shining light" again failed of conflagration. 

Still, a partial night attack on the Staten Island encamp- 
ment was concerted by Mercer and Knowlton, and twice 
attempted. On one occasion they were prevented from 
crossing the strait by tempestuous weather, on another 
by deficiency of boats. 

In the course of a few days arrived a hundred sail, with 
large re-enforcements, among which were one thousand Hes- 
sians, and as many more were reported to be on the way. 
The troops were disembarked on Staten Island, and fortifica- 
tions thrown up on some of the most commanding hills. 

All projects of attack upon the enemy were now out of 
the question. Indeed, some of "Washington's ablest advisers 

Am. Archives, 4th Series, i. 155. 

l56 U/or^8 of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruir)^ 

questioned the policy of remaining in Kew York, where they 
might be entrapped as the British had been in Boston. Reed, 
the adjutant-general, observed that, as the communication 
hj the Hudson was interrupted, there was nothing now to 
keep them at New York but a mere point of honor; in the 
meantime, they endangered the loss of the army and its 
military stores. Why should they risk so much in defending 
a city while the greater part of its inhabitants were plotting 
their destruction? His advice was, that, when they could 
defend the city no longer, they should evacuate and bum 
it, and retire from Manhattan Island ; should avoid any gen- 
eral action, or indeed any action, unless in view of great 
advantages; and should make it a war of posts. 

During the latter part of July and the early part of 
August, ships of war with their tenders continued to arrive, 
and Scotch Highlanders, Hessians, and other troops, to be 
landed on Staten Island. At the beginning of August, the 
squadron with Sir Henry Clinton, recently repulsed at 
Charleston, anchored in the bay. *'His coming," writes 
Colonel Reed, *'was as unexpected as if he had dropped 
from the clouds.'* He was accompanied by Lord Corn- 
wallis, and brought three thousand troops. 

In the meantime, Putnam's contrivances for obstructing 
the channel had reached their destined place. A letter dated 
Fort Washington, August 3d, says: **Four ships, chained 
and boomed, with a number of amazing large chevaux-de- 
f rise, were sunk close by the fort under command of General 
Mifflin, which fort mounts thirty- two pieces of heavy can- 
non. We are thoroughly sanguine that they [the ships up 
the river] never will be able to join the British fleet, nor 
assistance from the fleet be afforded to them ; so that we 
may set them down as our own." 

Cife of \JJ^^Y}'iT)<^tor) 157 

Another letter, written at the same date from Tarrytown, 
on the borders of the Tappan Sea, gives an account of an 
attack made by six row galleys upon the '* Phoenix" and 
''Rose." They fought bravely for two hours, hulling the 
ships repeatedly, but sustaining great damage in return; 
until their commodore. Colonel Tupper, gave the signal to 
draw off. '* Never," says the writer, '*did men behave with 
more firm, determined spirit than our little crew. One of 
our tars being mortally wounded, cried to his companions : 
*I am a dying man; revenge my blood, my boys, and carry 
me alongside my gun that I may die there.' We were so 
preserved by a gracious Providence that in all our galleys 
we have but two men killed and fourteen wounded, two of 
which are thought dangerous. We hope to have another 
touch at those pirates before they leave our river; which 
God prosper!" 

Such was the belligerent spirit prevailing up the Hudson. 

The force of the enemy collected in the neighborhood of 
New York was about thirty thousand men; that of the 
Americans a little more than seventeen thousand, but was 
subsequently increased to twenty thousand, for the most 
part raw and undisciplined. One-fourth were on the sick 
list with bilious and putrid fevers and dysentery ; others were 
absent on furlough or command ; the rest had to be distrib- 
uted over posts and stations fifteen miles apart. 

The sectional jealousies prevalent among them were more 
and more a subject of uneasiness to Washington. In one 
of his general orders he observes: ''It is with great concern 
that the general understands that jealousies have arisen 
among the troops from the different provinces, and reflections 
are frequently thrown out which can only tend to irritate 
each other, and injure the noble cause in which we are 

158 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 

engaged, and which we ought to support with one hand and 
one heart. The general most earnestly entreats the officers 
and soldiers to consider the consequences; that they can no 
way assist our enemies more effectually than by making 
divisions among ourselves; that the honor and success of 
the army, and the safety of our bleeding country, depend 
upon harmony and good agreement with each other; that 
the provinces are all united to oppose the common enemy, 
and all distinctions sunk in the name of an American. To 
make this name honorable, and to preserve the liberty of our 
country, ought to be our only emulation ; and he will be the 
best soldier and the best patriot who contributes most to this 
glorious work, whatever be his station, or from whatever 
part of the continent he may come. Let all distinctions of 
nations, countries, and provinces, therefore, be lost in the 
generous contest who shall behave with the most courage 
against the enemy and the most kindness and good humor 
to each other. If there be any officers or soldiers so lost to 
virtue and a love of their country as to continue in such 
practices after this order, the general assures them, and is 
authorized by Congress to declare to the whole army, that 
such persons shall be severely punished and dismissed from 
the service with disgrace." 

The urgency of such a general order is apparent in that 
early period of our confederation, when its various parts 
had not as yet been sufficiently welded together to acquire 
a thorough feeling of nationality ; yet what an enduring les- 
son does it furnish for every stage of our Union ! 

We subjoin another of the general orders issued in this 
time of gloom and anxiety : 

'*That the troops may have an opportunity of attending 
pubhc worship, as well as to take some rest after the great 

Cife of lI/a8l7ir)($toi7 159 

fatigue they have gone through, the general, in future, 
excuses them from fatigue duty on Sundays, except at the 
shipyards or on special occasions, until further orders. The 
general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked 
practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore 
little known in an American army, is growing into fashion. 
He hopes the officers will, by example as well as influence, 
endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will 
reflect that we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven 
on our arms if we insult it by our impiety and folly. Added 
to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, 
that every man of sense and character detests and despises 
it." * 

While Washington thus endeavored to elevate the minds 
of his soldiery to the sanctity of the cause in which they were 
engaged, he kept the most watchful eye upon the movements 
of the enemy. Besides their great superiority in point ot 
numbers as well as discipline, to his own crude and scanty 
legions, they possessed a vast advantage in their fleet, **They 
would not be half the enemy they are," observed Colonel 
Reed, *'if they were once separated from their ships." 
Every arrival and departure of these, therefore, was a sub- 
ject of speculation and conjecture. Aaron Burr, at that time 
in N"ew York, aid-de-camp to General Putnam, speaks in a 
letter to an uncle, of thirty transports, which, under convoy 
of three frigates, had put to sea on the 7th of August, with 
the intention of sailing round Long Island and coming 
through the Sound, and thus investing the city by the North 
and East Rivers. "They are then to land on both sides of 
the island," writes he, **join their forces, and draw a line 

* Orderly Book, August 3, as cited by Sparks. Writings 
of Washington, vol. iv., p. 28. 

i60 U/orKs of U/asI^ip^too Iruip^ 

across, wliich will hem us in and totally cut off all com- 
munication; after which they will have their own fun.'' He 
adds: '*They hold us in the utmost contempt. Talk of forc- 
ing all our lines without firing a gun. The bayonet is their 
pride. They have forgot Bunker's Hill." * 

In this emergency, Washington wrote to General Mercer 
for two thousand men from the flying camp. Colonel Small- 
wood's battalion was immediately furnished, as a part of 
them. The Convention of the State ordered out hasty levies 
of country militia, to form temporary camps on the shore of 
the Sound, and on that of the Hudson above King's Bridge, 
to annoy the enemy, should they attempt to land from their 
ships on either of these waters. Others were sent to re- 
enforce the posts on Long Island. As King's County, on 
Long Island, was noted for being a stronghold of the dis- 
affected, the Convention ordered that, should any of the 
militia of that coimty refuse to serve, they should be dis- 
armed and secured, and their possessions laid waste. 

Many of the yeomen of the country, thus hastily sum 
moned from the plow, were destitute of arms, in lieu of 
which they were ordered to bring with them a shovel, spade, 
or pickax, or a scythe straightened and fastened to a pole. 
This rustic array may have provoked the thoughtless sneers 
of city scoffers, such as those cited by Graydon ; but it was 
in truth one of the glorious features of the Revolution to be 
thus aided in its emergencies by ''hasty levies of husband- 
men." t 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 887. 

t General orders, Aug. 8tli, show the feverish state of 
affairs in the city. '* As the movements of the enemy and 
intelligence by deserters give the utmost reason to believe 
that the great struggle in which we are contending for every- 

Cife of lI/a8l?ii)<$top 161 

By the authority of the New York Convention, "Washing- 
ton had appointed General George Clinton to the command 
of the levies on both sides of the Hudson. He now ordered 
him to hasten down with them to the fort just erected on 
the north side of King's Bridge ; leaving two hundred men 
under the command of a brave and alert officer to throw up 
works at the pass of Antony's Nose, where the main road 
to Albany crosses that mountain. Troops of horse also were 
to be posted by him along the river to watch the motions of 
the enemy. 

Washington now made the last solemn preparations for 
the impending conflict. All suspected persons, whose pres- 
ence might promote the plans of the enemy, were removed 
to a distance. All papers respecting affairs of State were 
put up in a large case, to be delivered to Congress. As to 
his domestic arrangements, Mrs. Washington had some time 
previous gone to Philadelphia with the intention of returning 

thing dear to us and our posterity is near at hand, the 
general most earnestly recommends the closest attention to 
the state of the men's arms, ammunition, and flints; that 
if we should be suddenly called to action nothing of this kind 
may be to provide. And he does most anxiously exhort both 
officers and soldiers not to be out of their quarters or en- 
campments, especially in the morning, or upon the tide of 

"A flag in the daytime, or a light at night, in the fort on 
Bayard's Hill, with three guns from the same place fired 
quick but distinct, is to be considered as a signal for the 
troops to repair to their alarm posts and prepare for action. 
And that the alarm may be more effectually given, the 
drums are immediately to beat to arms upon the signal being 
given from Bayard's Hill. This order is not to be consid- 
ered as countermanding the firing two guns at Fort Geqfge, 
as formerly ordered. That is also to be done on an alarm, 
but the flag will not be hoisted at the old headquarters in 
Broadway." — Am. Archives, 5th Series, i. 912. 

162 U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^top Iruii)^ 

to Virginia, as there was no prospect of her being with him 
any part of the summer, which threatened to be one of tm*- 
moil and danger. The other ladies, wives of general officers, 
who used to grace and enliven headquarters, had all been 
sent out of the way of the storm which was lowering over 
this devoted city. 

Accounts of deserters, and other intelligence, informed 
Washington, on the 17th, that a great many of the enemy's 
troops had gone on board of the transports ; that three days' 
provisions had been cooked, and other steps taken indicating 
an intention of leaving Staten Island. Putnam, also, came 
up from below with word that at least one-fourth of the fleet 
had sailed. There were many conjectures at headquarters 
as to whither they were bound, or whether they had not 
merely shifted their station. Everything indicated, how- 
ever, that affairs were tending to a crisis. 

The "hysterical alarms" of the peaceful inhabitants of 
ITew York, which had provoked the soldier-like impatience 
and satirical sneers of Lee, inspired different sentiments in 
the benevolent heart of Washington, and produced the fol- 
lowing letter to the New York Convention : 

'*When I consider that the city of !N"ew York will, in all 
human probability, very soon be the scene of a bloody con- 
flict, I cannot but view the great numbers of women, chil- 
dren, and infirm persons remaining in it with the most 
melancholy concern. When the men-of-war (the "Phoenix" 
and **Rose") passed up the river, the shrieks and cries of 
these poor creatures, running every way with their children, 
were truly distressing, and I fear they will have an unhappy 
effect upon the ears and minds of our young and inexperi- 
enced soldiery. Can no method be devised for their re- 

Cife of U/a8l7ii)($toi> 163 

How vividly does this call to mind the compassionate sen- 
sibility of his younger days, when commanding at Win* 
Chester, in Virginia, in time of public peril; and melted 
to ''deadly sorrow" by the "supplicating tears of the women, 
and moving petitions of the men." As then, he Hstened 
to the prompt suggestions of his own heart; and, without 
awaiting the action of the Convention, issued a proclamation, 
advising the inhabitants to remove, and requiring the officers 
and soldiery to aid the helpless and indigent. The Conven- 
tion soon responded to his appeal, and appointed a com- 
mittee to effect these purposes in the most humane and 
expeditious manner. 

A gallant little exploit at this juncture gave a fillip to the 
spirits of the community. Two of the fire-ships recently 
constructed went up the Hudson to attempt the destruction 
of the ships which had so long been domineering over its 
waters. One succeeded in grappling the "Phoenix," and 
would soon have set her in flames, but in the darkness got 
to leeward, and was cast loose without effecting any dam- 
age. The other, in making for the "Rose," fell foul of one 
of the tenders, grappled and burned her. The enterprise was 
conducted with spirit, and though it failed of its main object, 
had an important effect. The commanders of the ships de- 
termined to abandon those waters, where their boats were 
fired upon by the very yeomanry whenever they attempted 
to land ; and where their ships were in danger from midnight 
incendiaries while riding at anchor. Taking advantage of 
a brisk wind and favoring tide, they made all sail early on 
the morning of the 18th of August, and stood down the river, 
keeping close under the eastern shore, where they supposed 
the guns from Mount "Washington could not be brought 
to bear upon them. Notwithstanding this precaution, the 

164 U/orKs of U/a8[;)ip^tor) Iruip^ 

"Phoenix" was thrice hulled by shots from the fort, and one 
of the tenders once. The "Rose," also, was hulled once by 
a shot from Burdett's Ferry. The men on board were kept 
close, to avoid being picked off by a party of riflemen posted 
on the river bank. The ships fired grape-shot as they passed, 
but without effecting any injury. Unfortunately, a passage 
had been left open in the obstructions on which General 
Putnam had calculated so sanguinely ; it was to have been 
closed in the course of a day or two. Through this they 
made their way, guided by a deserter ; which alone, in Put- 
nam's opinion, saved them from being checked in their 
career, and utterly destroyed by the batteries. 

The Battle of Long Island 

The movements of the British fleet, and of the camp on 
Staten Island, gave signs of a meditated attack ; but as the 
nature of that attack was uncertain, Washington was obliged 
to retain the greater part of his troops in the city for its 
defense, holding them ready, however, to be transferred to 
any point in the vicinity. General Mifflin, with about five 
hundred of the Pennsylvania troops, of Colonels Shee and 
Magaw's regiments, were at King's Bridge, ready to aid at 
a moment's notice. "They are the best disciplined of any 
troops that I have yet seen in the army," said General 
Heath, who had just reviewed them. General George 
Clinton was at that post, with about fourteen hundred of 
his yeomanry of the Hudson. As the ** Phoenix" and 
**Rose" had explored the shores and taken the soundings 

Cife of U/a8l?!i)^tor> 165 

as far as they had gone up the river, General Heath thought 
Howe might attempt an attack somewhere above King's 
Bridge, rather than in the face of the many and strong 
works erected in and around the city. ** Should his inclina- 
tion lead him this way," adds he, '* nature has done much 
for us, and we shall, as fast as possible, add the strength 
of art. We are pushing our works with great diligence.'' * 

Reports from different quarters gave Washington reason 
to apprehend that the design of the enemy might be to land 
part of their force on Long Island, and endeavor to get pos- 
session of the heights of Brooklyn, which overlooked New 
York; while another part should land above the city, as 
General Heath suggested. Thus, various disconnected 
points, distant from each other, and a great extent of inter 
vening country, had to be defended by raw troops, against 
a superior force, well disciplined, and possessed of every 
facility for operating by land and water. 

General Greene, with a considerable force, was stationed 
at Brooklyn. He had acquainted himself with all the locali- 
ties of the island, from Hell Gate to the Narrows, and made 
his plan of defense accordingly. His troops were diligently 
occupied in works which he laid out, about a mile beyond 
the village of Brooklyn, and facing the interior of the island, 
whence a land attack might be attempted. 

Brooklyn was immediately opposite to New York. The 
Sound, commonly called the River, in that place about 
three-quarters of a mile in width, swept its rapid tides be- 
tween them. The village stood on a kind of peninsula, 
formed by the deep inlets of Wallabout Bay on the north, 
and Gowanus Cove on the south. A line of intrenchments 

* Heath to Washington, August 17-18. 

lQ6 U/or^s of U/as!?ir;<^tor) lr\j\Y)<^ 

and strong redoubts extended across the neck of the peninsula 
from the bay to a swamp and creek emptying into the cove. 
To protect the rear of the works from the enemy's ships, a 
battery was erected at Red Hook, the southwest corner of 
the peninsula, and a fort on Governor's Island, nearly 

About two miles and a half in front of the line of in- 
trenchments and redoubts a range of hills, densely wooded, 
extended from southwest to northeast, forming a natural 
barrier across the island. It was traversed by three roads. 
One, on the left of the works, stretched eastwardly to Bed- 
ford, and then by a pass through the Bedford Hills to the 
village of Jamaica; another, central and direct, led through 
the woody heights to Flatbush; a third, on the right of the 
lines, passed by Gowanus Cove to the Narrows and Graves- 
end Bay. 

The occupation of this range of hills, and the protection 
of its passes, had been designed by General Greene; but 
unfortunately, in the midst of his arduous toils, he was taken 
down by a raging fever, which confined him to his bed ; and 
General Sullivan, just returned from Lake Champlain, had 
the temporary command. 

Washington saw that to prevent the enemy from landing 
on Long Island would be impossible, its great extent afford- 
ing so many places favorable for that purpose, and the 
American works being at the part opposite New York. 
'* However," writes he to the President of Congress, *'we 
shall attempt to harass them as much as possible, which is 
all that we can do." 

On the 21st came a letter, written in all haste by Briga- 
dier-general William Livingston, of New Jersey. Move- 
ments of the enemy on Staten Island had been seen from his 

Cife of U/a8l7ir)($toi7 167 

camp. He had sent over a spy at midnight, who brought 
back the following intelligence. Twenty thousand men had 
embarked to make an attack on Long Island and up the 
Hudson. Fifteen thousand remained on Staten Island, to 
attack Bergen Point, Elizabethtown Point, and Amboy. 
The spy declared that he had heard orders read, and the 
conversation of the generals. '*They appear very deter- 
mined," added he, ''and will put all to the sword!" 

Washington sent a copy of the letter to the New York 
Convention. On the following morning (August 22d) the 
enemy appeared to be carrying their plans into execution. 
The reports of cannon and musketry were heard from Long 
Island, and columns of smoke were descried rising above the 
groves and orchards at a distance. The city, as usual, was 
alarmed, and had reason to be so; for word soon came that 
several thousand men, with artillery and light-horse, were 
landed at Gravesend; and that Colonel Hand, stationed 
there with the Pennsylvania rifle regiment, had retreated 
to the lines, setting fire to stacks of wheat and other articles, 
to keep them from falling into the enemy's hands. 

Washington apprehended an attempt of the foe by a 
forced march to surprise the lines at Brooklyn. He im- 
mediately sent ovel* a re-enforcement of six battalions. It 
was all that he could spare, as with the next tide the ships 
might bring up the residue of the army, and attack the city. 
Five battalions more, however, were ordered to be ready as 
a re-enforcement, if required. ''Be cool, but determined," 
was the exhortation given to the departing troops. "Do not 
fire at a distance, but wait the commands of your officers. 
It is the general's express orders that, if any man attempt 
to skulk, lie down, or retreat without orders, he be instantly 
shot down for an example." 

168 U/orHs of U/asl^ip^too IruiQ*^ 

In justice to the poor fellows, most of whom were going 
for the first time on a service of life and death, "Washington 
observes, that ''they went off in high spirits," and that the 
whole, capable of duty, evinced the same cheerfulness. * 

Nine thousand of the enemy had landed, with forty pieces 
of cannon. Sir Henry Clinton had the chief command, and 
led the first division. His associate officers v^^ere the Earls 
of Cornwallis and Percy, General Grant, and General Sir 
"William Erskine. As their boats approached the shore, 
Colonel Hand, stationed, as has been said, in the neighbor- 
hood with his rifle regiment, retreated to the chain of wooded 
hills, and took post on a height commanding the central road 
leading from Flatbush. The enemy having landed without 
opposition, Lord Cornwallis was detached with the reserve 
to Flatbush, while the rest of the army extended itself from 
the ferry at the Narrows through Utrecht and Gravesend, to 
the village of Flatlands. 

Lord Cornwallis, with two battalions of light infantry^ 
Colonel Donop's corps of Hessians, and six field-pieces, ad- 
vanced rapidly to seize upon the central pass through the 
hills. He found Hand and his riflemen ready to make a 
vigorous defense. This brought him to a halt, having been 
ordered not to risk an attack should the pass be occupied. 
He took post for the night, therefore, in the village of Flat- 

It was evidently the aim of the enemy to force the lines 
at Brooklyn and get possession of the heights. Should they 
succeed. New York would be at their merc3^ The panic 
and distress of the inhabitants went on increasing. Most of 
those who could afford it had already removed to the coun- 

* Washington to the President of Congress. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip(ftor> 169 

try. There was now a new cause of terror. It was rumored 
that, should the American army retreat from the city, leave 
would be given for any one to set it on fire. The New York 
Convention apprised Washington of this rumor. '*I can as- 
sure you, gentlemen," writes he in reply, ''that this report 
is not founded on the least authority from me. On the con- 
trary, I am so sensible of the value of such a city, and the 
consequences of its destruction to many worthy citizens and 
their families, that nothing but the last necessity, and that 
such as would justify me to the whole world, would induce 
me to give orders to that purpose." 

In this time of general alarm, headquarters were besieged 
by applicants for safeguard from the impending danger ; and 
Washington was even beset in his walks by supplicating 
women with their children. The patriot's heart throbbed 
feelingly under the soldier's belt. Nothing could surpass 
the patience and benignant sympathy with which he listened 
to them and endeavored to allay their fears. Again he urged 
the Convention to carry out their measures for the removal 
of these defenseless beings. "There are many," writes he, 
''who anxiously wish to remove, but have not the means." 

On the 24th he crossed over to Brooklyn, to inspect the 
lines and reconnoiter the neighborhood. In this visit he felt 
sensibly the want of General Greene's presence, to explain 
his plans and point out the localities. 

The American advanced posts were in the wooded hills. 
Colonel Hand, with his riflemen, kept watch over the cen- 
tral road, and a strong redoubt had been thrown up in front 
of the pass, to check any advance of the enemy from Flat- 
bush. Another road leading from Flatbush to Bedford, by 
which the enemy might get round to the left of the works at 
Brooklyn, was guarded by two regiments, one under Colonel 
Vol. XIIL— ***8 

170 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 

Williams, posted on the north side of the ridge, the other by 
a Pennsylvania rifle regiment, under Colonel Miles, posted 
on the south side. The enemy was stretched along the 
country beyond the chain of hills. 

As yet, nothing had taken place but skirmishing and ir- 
regular firing between the outposts. It was with deep con- 
cern Washington noticed a prevalent disorder and confusion 
in the camp. There was a want of system among the officers 
and co-operation among the troops, each corps seeming to act 
independently of the rest. Few of the men had any military 
experience, except, perchance, in bush-fighting with the In- 
dians. Unaccustomed to discipline and the restraint of 
camps, they salHed forth whenever they pleased, singly 
or in squads, prowhng about and firing upon the enemy, 
like hunters after game. 

Much of this was no doubt owing to the protracted illness 
of General Greene. 

On returning to the city, therefore, Washington gave the 
command on Long Island to General Putnam, warning him, 
however, in his letter of instructions, to summon the officers 
together and enjoin them to put a stop to the irregularities 
which he had observed among the troops. Lines of defense 
were to be formed round the encampment, and works on the 
most advantageous ground. Guards were to be stationed on 
the lines, with a brigadier of the day constantly at hand to 
see that orders were executed. Field-officers were to go the 
rounds and report the situation of the guards, and no one 
was to pass beyond the lines without a special permit in writ- 
ing. At the same time, partisan and scouting parties, under 
proper officers, and with regular license, might sally forth to 
harass the enemy, and prevent their carrying off the horses 
and cattle of the country people. 

Cife of U/a8l;>ir>($tor> 171 

Especial attention was called to the wooded hills between 
the works and the enemy's camp. The passes through them 
were to be secured by abatis and defended by the best troops, 
who should, at all hazards, prevent the approach of the 
enemy. The militia, being the least tutored and experi' 
enced, might man the interior works. 

Putnam crossed with alacrity to his post. "He was 
made happy," writes Colonel Reed, "by obtaining leave to 
go over. The brave old man was quite miserable at being 
kept here." 

In the meantime, the enemy were augmenting their forces 
on the island. Two brigades of Hessians, under Lieutenant- 
general de Heister, were transferred from the camp on Statea 
Island on the 25th. This movement did not escape the vigi- 
lant eye of Washington. By the aid of his telescope, he had 
noticed that from time to time tents were struck on Staten 
Island, and portions of the encampment broken up; while 
ship after ship weighed anchor and dropped down to the 

He now concluded that the enemy were about to make 
a push with their main force for the possession of Brooklyn 
Heights. He accordingly sent over additional re-enforce- 
ments, and among them Colonel John Haslet's well-equipped 
and well- disciplined Delaware regiment; which was joined 
to Lord Stirling's brigade, chiefly composed of Southern 
troops, and stationed outside of the lines. These were troops 
which Washington regarded with peculiar satisfaction, on 
account of their soldier-like appearance and discipline. 

On the 26th, he crossed over to Brooklyn, accompanied 
by Reed, the adjutant-general. There was much movement 
among the enemy's troops, and their number was evidently 
augmented. In fact. General de Heister had reached Flat- 

172 U/orl^s of U/asI^ip^tor) Irafi)^ 

bush with his Hessians, and taken command of the center; 
whereupon Sir Henry Clinton, with the right wing, drew off 
to Flatlands, in a diagonal line to the right of De Heister, 
while the left wing, commanded by General Grant, extended 
to the place of landing on Gravesend Bay. 

Washington remained all day aiding General Putnam 
with his counsels, who, new to the command, had not been 
able to make himself well acquainted with the fortified posts 
beyond the lines. In the evening Washington returned to 
the city, full of anxious thought. A general attack was evi- 
dently at hand. Where would it be made? How would his 
inexperienced troops stand the encounter? What would be 
the defense of the city, if assailed by the ships? It was a 
night of intense sohcitude, and well might it be; for dur- 
ing that night a plan was carried into effect fraught with 
disaster to the Americans. 

The plan to which we allude was concerted by General 
Howe, the commander-in-chief. Sir Henry Clinton, with 
the vanguard, composed of the choicest troops, was, by a 
circuitous march in the night, to throw himself into the road 
leading from Jamaica to Bedford, seize upon a pass through 
the Bedford Hills, within three miles of that village, and 
thus turn the left of the American advanced posts. It was 
preparatory to this nocturnal march that Sir Henry during 
the day had fallen back with his troops from Flatbush to 
Flatlands, and caused that stir and movement which had 
attracted the notice of Washington. 

To divert the attention of the Americans from this stealthy 
march on their left. General Grant was to menace their right 
flank toward Gravesend before daybreak, and General de 
Heister to cannonade their center, where Colonel Hand was 
stationed. Neither, however, was to press an attack until 

Cife of U/ast^ii^^toi) 173 

the guns of Sir Henry Clinton should give notice that he had 
effected his purpose and turned the left flank of the Ameri- 
cans ; then the latter were to be assailed at all points with 
the utmost vigor. About nine o'clock in the evening of the 
26th, Sir Henry Clinton began his march from Flatlands 
with his vanguard, composed of light infantry. Lord Percy 
followed with the grenadiers, artillery, and light dragoons, 
forming the center. Lord Cornwallis brought up the rear 
guard with the heavy ordnance. General Howe accom- 
panied this division. 

It was a silent march, without beat of drum or sound of 
trumpet, under guidance of a Long Island tory, along by- 
roads traversing a swamp by a narrow causeway, and so 
across the country to the Jamaica road. About two hours 
before daybreak they arrived within half a mile of the pass 
through the Bedford Hills, and halted to prepare for an at- 
tack. At this juncture they captured an American patrol, 
and learned, to their surprise, that the Bedford pass was un- 
occupied. In fact, the whole road beyond Bedford, leading 
to Jamaica, had been left unguarded, excepting by some 
light volunteer troops. Colonels Williams and Miles, who 
were stationed to the left of Colonel Hand, among the 
wooded hills, had been instructed to send out parties occa- 
sionally to patrol the road, but no troops had been stationed 
at the Bedford pass. The road and pass may not have been 
included in General Greene's plan of defense, or may have 
been thought too far out of the way to need special precau- 
tion. The neglect of them, however, proved fatal. 

Sir Henry Clinton immediately detached a battalion of 
light infantry to secure the pass ; and, advancing with his 
corps at the first break of day, possessed himself of the 
heights. He was now within three miles of Bedford, and 

174 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

his march had been undiscovered. Having passed the 
heights, therefore, he halted his division for the soldiers 
to take some refreshment, preparatory to the morning's 

There we will leave them, while we note how the other 
divisions performed their part of the plan. 

About midnight General Grant moved from Gravesend 
Bay, with the left wing, composed of two brigades and a 
regiment of regulars, a battalion of New York loyalists, and 
ten field-pieces. He proceeded along the road leading past 
the Narrows and Gowanus Cove, toward the right of the 
American works. A picket guard of Pennsylvanian and 
New York mihtia, under Colonel Atlee, retired before him 
fighting to a position on the skirts of the wooded hills. 

In the meantime, scouts had brought in word to the 
American lines that the enemy were approaching in force 
upon the right. General Putnam instantly ordered Lord 
Stirling to hasten with the two regiments nearest at hand, 
and hold them in check. These were Haslet's Delaware and 
Small wood's Maryland regiments; the latter the macaronis y 
in scarlet and buff, who had outshone, in camp, their yeo- 
man fellow-soldiers in homespun. They turned out with 
great alacrity, and Stirling pushed forward with them on the 
road toward the Narrows. By the time he had passed Go- 
wanus Cove, daylight began to appear. Here, on a rising 
ground, he met Colonel Atlee with his Pennsylvania Provin- 
cials, and learned that the enemy were near. Indeed, their 
front began to appear in the uncertain twilight. Stirling or- 
dered Atlee to place himself in ambush in an orchard on the 
left of the road, and await their coming up, while he formed 
the Delaware and Maryland regiments along a ridge from 
the road, up to a piece of woods on the top of the hill. 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($tOQ 175 

Atlee gave the enemy two or three volleys as they ap- 
proached, and then retreated and formed in the wood on 
Lord Stirling's left. By this time his lordship was re-en- 
forced by Kichline's riflemen, part of whom he placed along 
a hedge at the foot of the hill, and part in front of the wood. 
General Grant threw his light troops in the advance, and 
posted them in an orchard and behind hedges, extending in 
front of the Americans, and about one hundred and fifty 
yards distant. 

It was now broad daylight. A rattling fire commenced 
between the British light troops and the American riflemen, 
which continued for about two hours, when the former re- 
tired to their main body. In the meantime, Stirling's posi- 
tion had been strengthened by the arrival of Captain Car- 
penter with two field-pieces. These were placed on the side 
of the hill so as to command the road and the approach for 
some hundred yards. General Grant likewise brought up 
his artillery within three hundred yards, and formed his 
brigades on opposite hills, about six hundred yards distant. 
There was occasional cannonading on both sides, but neither 
party sought a general action. 

Lord Stirling's object was merely to hold the enemy in 
check; and the instructions of General Grant, as we have 
shown, were not to press an attack until aware that Sir 
Henry Clinton was on the left flank of the Americans. 

During this time, De Heister had commenced his part of 
the plan by opening a cannonade from his camp at Flatbush, 
upon the redoubt, at the pass of the wooded hills, where 
Hand and his riflemen were stationed. On hearing this, 
General Sullivan, who was within the lines, rode forth to 
Colonel Hand's post to reconnoiter. De Heister, however, 
according to the plan of operations, did not advance from 

176 U/orKs of Wss\)iT)<^tOT) Iruip^ 

Flatbush, but kept up a brisk fire from his artillery on the 
redoubt in front of the pass, which replied as briskly. At 
the same time, a cannonade from a British -ship upon the 
battery at Red Hook contributed to distract the attention of 
the Americans. 

In the meantime, terror reigned in New York. The vol- 
leying of musketry and the booming of cannon at early dawn 
had told of the fighting that had commenced. As the morn- 
ing advanced, and platoon firing and the occasional discharge 
of a field-piece were heard in different directions, the terror 
increased. Washington was still in doubt whether this was 
but a part of a general attack, in which the city was to be 
includedo Five ships of the line were endeavoring to beat 
up the bay. Were they to cannonade the city, or to land 
troops above it? Fortunately, a strong head-wind baffled 
their efforts; but one vessel of inferior force got up far 
enough to open the fire already mentioned upon the fort at 
Red Hook. 

Seeing no likelihood of an immediate attack upon the 
city, Washington hastened over to Brooklyn in his barge, 
and galloped up to the works. He arrived there in time to 
witness the catastrophe for which all the movements of the 
enemy had been concerted. 

The thundering of artillery in the direction of Bedford 
had given notice that Sir Henry had turned the left of the 
Americans. De Heister immediatel}^ ordered Colonel Count 
Donop to advance with his Hessian regiment and storm the 
redoubt, while he followed with his whole division. Sullivan 
did not remain to defend the redoubt. Sir Henry's cannon 
had apprised him of the fatal truth, that his flank was 
turned and he in danger of being surrounded. He ordered 
a retreat to the lines, but it was already too late. Scarce 

Cife of \lfzsl[)iT)<^toT) 177 

had he descended from the height and emerged into the plain 
when he was met by the British Hght infantry and dragoons 
and driven back into the woods. By this time De Heister 
and his Hessians had come up, and now commenced a scene 
of confusion, consternation, and slaughter, in which the 
troops under Williams and Miles were involved. Hemmed 
in and entrapped between the British and Hessians, and 
driven from one to the other, the Americans fought for a 
time bravely, or rather desperately. Some were cut down 
and trampled by the cavalry, others bayoneted without 
mercy by the Hessians. Some rallied in groups, and made 
a brief stand with their rifles from rocks or behind trees. 
The whole pass was a scene of carnage, resounding with the 
clash of arms, the tramp of horses, the volleying of firearms, 
and the cries of the combatants, with now and then the 
dreary braying of the trumpet. We give the words of one 
who mingled in the fight, and whom we have heard speak 
with horror of the sanguinary fury with which the Hessians 
plied the bayonet. At length some of the Americans, by a 
desperate effort, cut their way through the host of foes, and 
effected a retreat to the lines, fighting as they went. Others 
took refuge among the woods and fastnesses of the hills, but 
a great part were either killed or taken prisoners. Among 
the latter was General Sullivan. 

Washington, as we have observed, arrived in time to 
witness this catastrophe, but was unable to prevent it. He 
had heard the din of the battle in the woods, and seen the 
smoke rising from among the trees ; but a deep column of 
the enemy was descending from the hills on the left; his 
choicest troops were all in action, and he had none but militia 
to man the works. His solicitude was now awakened for 
the safety of Lord Stirling and his corps, who had been all 

178 U/orKs of \JJas\)ir)<^tOT) Iruir^^ 

the morning exchanging cannonades with General Grant. 
The forbearance of the latter in not advancing, though so 
superior in force, had been misinterpreted by the Americans. 
According to Colonel Haslet's statement, the Delawares and 
Mary landers, drawn up on the side of the hill, "stood up- 
ward of four hours with a firm and determined countenance, 
in close array, their colors flying, the enemy's artillery play- 
ing on them all the while, not daring to advance and at- 
tack thein, though six times their number, and nearly sur- 
rounding them." * 

Washington saw the danger to which these brave fellows 
were exposed, though they could not. Stationed on a hill 
within the lines, he commanded, with his telescope, a view 
of the whole field, and saw the enemy's reserve, under Corn- 
wallis, marching down by a cross-road to get in their rear, 
and thus place them between two fires. With breathless 
anxiety he watched the result. 

The sound of Sir Henry Clinton's cannon apprised Stir- 
ling that the enemy was between him and the lines. Gen- 
eral Grant, too, aware that the time had come for earnest 
action, was closing up, and had already taken Colonel Atlee 
prisoner. His lordship now thought to effect a circuitous 
retreat to the lines, by crossing the creek which empties into 
Gowanus Cove, near what was called the Yellow Mills. 
There was a bridge and mill-dam, and the creek might be 
forded at low water, but no time was to be lost, for the tide 
was rising. 

Leaving part of his men to keep face toward General 
Grant, Stirling advanced with the rest to pass the creek, but 
was suddenly checked by the appearance of Cornwallis and 
his grenadiers. 

* Atlee to Colonel Rodney. Sparks, iv. 516. 

Cife of lI/a8l?ip<;Jtoi> 179 

Washington and some of his officers on the hill, who 
watched every movement, had supposed that Stirling and 
his troops, finding the case desperate, would surrender in 
a body, without firing. On the contrary, his lordship boldly 
attacked Cornwallis with half of Small wood's battalion, 
while the rest of his troops retreated across the creek. Wash- 
ington wrung his hands in agony at the sight. **Good God !" 
cried he, ''what brave fellows I must this day lose!" * 

It was, indeed, a desperate fight; and now Small wood *s 
macaronis showed their game spirit. They were repeatedly 
broken, but as often rallied, and renewed the fight. "We 
were on the point of driving Lord Cornwallis from his sta- 
tion," writes Lord Stirling, "but large re-enforcements ar- 
riving rendered it impossible to do more than provide 
for safety." 

"Being thus surrounded, and no probability of a re-en- 
forcement," writes a Maryland officer, "his lordship ordered 
me to retreat with the remaining part of our men, and force 
our way to our camp. We soon fell in with a party of the 
enemy, who clubbed their firelocks and waved their hats as 
if they meant to surrender as prisoners ; but on our advanc- 
ing within sixty yards they presented their pieces and fired, 
which we returned with so much warmth that they soon 
quitted their post and retired to a large body that was lying 
in ambuscade." f 

The enemy rallied and returned to the combat with addi- 
tional force. Only five companies of Small wood's battalion 
were now in action. There was a warm and close engage- 

* Letter from an American officer. Am. Archives, 5th 
Series, ii. 108. 

t Letter from a Mary lander. Idem, 5th Series, i. 1232. 

iSO U/or^s of U/asl^ip^tOQ IruiQ<$ 

ment for nearly ten minutes. The struggle became desperate 
on the part of the Americans. Broken and disordered, they 
rallied in a piece of woods and made a second attack. They 
were again overpowered with numbers. Some were sur- 
rounded and bayoneted in a field of Indian com; others 
joined their comrades who were retreating across the marsh. 
Lord Stirling had encouraged and animated his young sol- 
diers by his voice and example, but when all was lost, he 
sought out General de Heister and surrendered himself as 
his prisoner. 

More than two hundred and fifty brave fellows, most of 
them of Smallwood's regiment, perished in this deadly strug- 
gle, within sight of the lines of Brooklyn, That part of the 
Delaware troops who had first crossed the creek and swamp 
made good their retreat to the lines with a trifling loss, and 
entered the camp covered with mud and drenched with 
water, but bringing with them twenty-three prisoners, and 
their standard tattered by grape-shot. 

The enemy now concentrated their forces within a few 
hundred yards of the redoubts. The grenadiers were within 
musket-shot. Washington expected they would storm the 
works, and prepared for a desperate defense. The discharge 
of a cannoD and volleys of musketry from the part of the 
lines nearest to them seemed to bring them to a pause. 

It was, in truth, the forbearance of the British com- 
mander that prevented a bloody conflict. His troops, heated 
with action and flushed with success, were eager to storm 
the works ; but he was unwilling to risk the loss of life that 
must attend an assault, when the object might be attained 
at a cheaper rate by regular approaches. Checking the 
ardor of his men, therefore, though with some difficulty, 
he drew them off to a hollow way, in front of the lines, but 

Cife of U/asl?ip($eor> 181 

out of reach of the musketry, and encamped there for the 

The loss of the Americans in this disastrous battle has 
been variously stated, but is thought in killed, wounded, 
and prisoners to have been nearly two thousand; a large 
number, considering that not above five thousand were en- 
gaged. The enemy acknowledged a loss of three hundred 
and eighty killed and wounded, f 

The success of the enemy was attributed, in some meas- 
ure, to the doubt in which Washington was kept as to the 
nature of the intended attack, and at what point it would 
chiefly be made. This obliged him to keep a great part of 
his forces in New York, and to distribute those at Brooklyn 
over a wide extent of country, and at widely distant places. 
In fact, he knew not the superior number of the enemy 
ercamped on Long Island, a majority of them having been 
furtively landed in the night, some days after the debarka- 
tion of the first division. 

Much of the day's disaster has been attributed, also, to 
a confusion in the command, caused by the illness of Gen- 
eral Greene. Putnam, who had supplied his place in the 
emergency after the enemy had landed, had not time to 
make himself acquainted with the post and the surrounding 
country. Sullivan, though in his letters he professes to have 
considered himself subordinate to General Putnam within 
the lines, seems still to have exercised somewhat of an inde- 
pendent command, and to have acted at his own discretion : 
while Lord Stirling was said to have command of all the 
troops outside of the works. 

* Gen. Howe to Lord G. Germaine. Rememb., iii. 347. 
t Howe states the prisoners at 1,094. and computes the 
whole American loss at 3,300. 

182 U/orKs of lI/a8l?ip^top IruiQ^ 

The fatal error, however, and one probably arising from 
all these causes, consisted in leaving the passes through the 
wooded hills too weakly fortified and guarded ; and especially 
in neglecting the eastern road, by which Sir Henry Clinton 
got in the rear of the advanced troops, cut them off from 
the lines, and subjected them to a cross fire of his own men 
and De Heister's Hessians. 

This able and fatal scheme of the enemy might have been 
thwarted had the army been provided with a few troops of 
light-horse, to serve as videttes. With these to scour the 
roads and bring intelligence, the night march of Sir Henry 
Clinton, so decisive of the fortunes of the day, could hardly 
have failed to be discovered and reported. The Connecticut 
horsemen, therefore, ridiculed by the Southerners for their 
homely equipments, sneered at as useless, and dismissed for 
standing on their dignity and privileges as troopers, might, 
if retained, have saved the army from being surprised and 
severed, its advanced guards routed, and those very Southern 
troops cut up, captured, and almost annihilated. 

The Retreat from Long Island 

The night after the battle was a weary, yet almost sleep- 
less one to the Americans. Fatigued, dispirited, many of 
them sick and wounded, yet they were, for the most part, 
without tent or other shelter. To Washington it was a 
night of anxious vigil. Everything boded a close and deadly 
conflict. The enemy had pitched a number of tents about 
a mile distant. Their sentries were but a quarter of a mile 
off, and close to the American sentries. At four o'clock in 

Cife of U/a8l?ip<$tor7 183 

the morning, Washington went the round of the works to 
see that all was right, and to speak words of encouragement. 
The morning broke lowering and dreary. Large encamp- 
ments were gradually descried ; to appearance, the enemy 
were twenty thousand strong. As the day advanced, their 
ordnance began to play upon the works. They were pro- 
ceeding to intrench themselves, but were driven into their 
tents by a drenching rain. 

Early in the morning General Mifflin arrived in camp 
with part of the troops which had been stationed at Fort 
Washington and King's Bridge. He brought with him 
Shee's prime Philadelphia regiment, and Magaw's Penn- 
sylvania regiment, both well disciplined and officered, and 
accustomed to act together. They were so much reduced 
in numbers, however, by sickness, that they did not amount, 
in the whole, to more than eight hundred men. With Mifflin 
came also Colonel Glover's Massachusetts regiment, com- 
posed chiefly of Marblehead fishermen and sailors, hardy, 
adroit, and weather-proof; trimly clad in blue jackets and 
trousers. The detachment numbered, in the whole, about 
thirteen hundred men, all fresh and full of spirits. Every 
eye brightened as they marched briskly along the line with 
alert step and cheery aspect. They were posted at the left 
extremity of the intrenchments toward the Wallabout. 

There were skirmishes throughout the day between the 
riflemen on the advanced posts and the British ''irregulars," 
which at times were quite severe ; but no decided attack was 
attempted. The main body of the enemy kept within their 
tents until the latter part of the day; when they began to 
break ground at about five hundred yards distance from the 
works, as if preparing to carry them by regular approaches. 

On the 29th, there was a dense fog over the island, that 

184 U/orl^8 of U/a8J;)ir>^tor7 Iru/r><$ 

wrapped everything in mystery. In the course of the morn- 
ing, General Mifflin, with Adjutant-general Reed and Col- 
onel Grayson of Virginia, one of Washington's aides- de- 
camp, rode to the western outposts in the neighborhood of 
Red Hook. While they were there, a light breeze lifted the 
fog from a part of the New York Bay, and revealed the 
British ships at their anchorage opposite Staten Island. 
There appeared to be an unusual bustle among them. Boats 
were passing to and from the admiral's ship, as if seeking 
or carrying orders. Some movement was apparently in agi- 
tation. The idea occurred to the reconnoitering party that 
the fleet was preparing, should the wind hold and the fog 
clear away, to come up the bay at the turn of the tide, silence 
the feeble batteries at Red Hook and the city, and anchor 
in the East River. In that case the army on Long Island 
would be completely surrounded and entrapped. 

Alarmed at this perilous probability, they spurred back 
to headquarters, to urge the immediate withdrawal of the 
army. As this might not be acceptable advice, Reed, em- 
boldened by his intimacy with the commander-in-chief, 
undertook to give it. Washington instantly summoned a 
council of war. The difficulty was already apparent of 
guarding such extensive works with troops fatigued and 
dispirited, and exposed to the inclemencies of the weather. 
Other dangers now presented themselves. Their communi- 
cation with New York might be cut off by the fleet from 
below. Other ships had passed round Long Island, and 
were at Flushing Bay, on the Sound. These might land 
troops on the east side of Harlem River, and make them- 
selves masters of King's Bridge; that key of Manhattan 
Island. Taking all these things into consideration, it was 
resolved to cross with the troops to the city that very night. 

Cife of U/a8l?ii)^too 185 

Never did retreat require greater secrecy and circumspec- 
tion. Nine thousand men, with all the munitions of war, 
were to be withdrawn from before a victorious army, en- 
camped so near that every stroke of spade and pickax from 
their trenches could be heard. The retreating troops, more- 
over, were to be embarked and conveyed across a strait 
three-quarters of a mile wide, swept by rapid tides. The 
least alarm of their movement would bring the enemy upon 
them, and produce a terrible scene of confusion and carnage 
at the place of embarkation. 

Washington made the preparatory arrangements with 
great alertness, yet profound secrecy. 

Verbal orders were sent to Colonel Hughes, who acted 
as quartermaster-general, to impress all water craft, large 
and small, from Spyt den Duivel on the Hudson round to 
Hell Gate on the Sound, and have them on the east side of 
the city by evening. The order was issued at noon, and so 
promptly executed, that, although some of the vessels had 
to be brought a distance of fifteen miles, they were all at 
Brooklyn at eight o'clock in the evening, and put under the 
management of Colonel Glover's amphibious Marblehead 

To prepare the army for a general movement without 
betraying the object, orders were issued for the troops to hold 
themselves in readiness for a night attack upon the enemy. 
The orders caused surprise, for the poor fellows were ex- 
hausted, and their arms rendered nearly useless by the rain ; 
all, however, prepared to obey; but several made nuncupa- 
tive wills; as is customary among soldiers on the eve of 
sudden and deadly peril. 

According to Washington's plan of retreat, to keep the 
enemy from discovering the withdrawal of the Americans 

186 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

until the main body should have embarked in the boats and 
pushed off from the shore, General Mifflin was to remain 
at the lines with his Pennsylvania troops and the gallant 
remains of Haslet, Small wood, and Hand's regiments, with 
guards posted and sentinels alert, as if nothing extraordinary 
was taking place ; when the main embarkation was effected, 
they were themselves to move off quietly, march briskly to 
the ferry, and embark. In case of any alarm that might 
disconcert the arrangements, Brooklyn church was to be the 
rallying-place, whither all should repair, so as unitedly to 
resist any attack. 

It was late in the evening whep the troops began to retire 
from the breastworks. As one regiment quietly withdrew 
from their station on guard, the troops on the right and left 
moved up and filled the vacancy. There was a stifled mur- 
mur in the camp, unavoidable in a movement of the kind; 
but it gradually died away in the direction of the river, as 
the main body moved on in silence and order. The youthful 
Hamilton, whose military merits had won the favor of Gen- 
eral Greene, and who had lost his baggage and a field-piece 
in the battle, brought up the rear of the retreating party. In 
the dead of the night, and in the midst of this hushed and 
anxious movement, a cannon went off with a tremendous 
roar. *'The effect," says an American who was present, 
*'was at once alarming and sublime. If the explosion was 
within our lines, the gun was probably discharged in the act 
of spiking it, and could have been no less a matter of specu- 
lation to the enemy than to ourselves." * 

*'What with the greatness of the stake, the darkness of 
the night, the uncertainty of the desien, and the extreme 

* Graydon's Memoirs, edited by I. S. Littell, p. 167. 

Cife of U/a8l?ii)($top 187 

hazard of the issue," adds the same writer, ''it would be 
difficult to conceive a more deeply solemn and interesting 

The meaning of this midnight gun was never ascertained ; 
fortunately, though it startled the Americans, it failed to 
rouse the British camp. 

In the meantime the embarkation went on with all pos- 
sible dispatch, under the vigilant eye of Washington, who 
stationed himself at the ferry, superintending every move- 
ment. In his anxiety for dispatch, he sent back Colonel 
Scammel, one of his aides-de-camp, to hasten forward all 
the troops that were on the march. Scammel blundered 
in executing his errand, and gave the order to Mifflin like- 
wise. The general instantly called in his pickets and senti- 
nels, and set off for the ferry. 

By this time the tide had turned ; there was a strong 
wind from the northeast ; the boats with oars were insuffi- 
cient to convey the troops ; those with sails could not make 
headway against the wind and tide. There was some con- 
fusion at the ferry, and in the midst of it General Mifflin 
came down with the whole covering party; adding to the 
embarrassment and uproar. 

"Good God! General Mifflin!" cried Washington, *'I am 
afraid you have ruined us by so unseasonably withdrawing 
the troops from the lines." 

**I did so by your order," replied Mifflin with some 
warmth. "It cannot be!" exclaimed Washington. "By 
G — , I did!" was the blunt rejoinder. "Did Scammel act 
as aid-de-camp for the day or did he not?" "He did." 
"Then," said Mifflin, "I had orders through him." "It 
is a dreadful mistake," rejoined Washington, "and unless 
the troops can regain the lines before their absence is discov- 

I88 U/orl^8 of U/aslpip^tor) Iruir^^ 

ered by the enemy the most disastrous consequences are to 
be apprehended." 

Mifflin led back his men to the lines, which had been 
completely deserted for three-quarters of an hour. Fortu- 
nately, the dense fog had prevented the enemy from discov- 
ering that they v^^ere unoccupied. The men resumed their 
former posts, and remained at them until called off to cross 
the ferry. *' Whoever has seen troops in a similar situa- 
tion," v^rites General Heath, "or duly contemplates the 
himaan heart in such trials, will know how to appreciate 
the conduct of these brave men on this occasion." 

The fog which prevailed all this time seemed almost 
providential. While it hung over Long Island and con- 
cealed the movements of the Americans, the atmosphere was 
clear on the New York side of the river. The adverse wind, 
too, died away, the river became so smooth that the rowboats 
could be laden almost to the gunwale ; and a favoring breeze 
sprang up for the sailboats. The whole embarkation of 
troops, artillery, ammunition, provisions, cattle, horses, and 
carts, was happily effected, and by daybreak the greater 
part had safely reached the city, thanks to the aid of Glover's 
Marblehead men. Scarce anything was abandoned to the 
enemy, excepting a few heavy pieces of artillery. At a 
proper time, Mifflin, with his covering party, left the lines, 
and effected a silent retreat to the ferry. Washington, 
though repeatedly entreated, refused to enter a boat until 
all the troops were embarked; and crossed the river with 
the last. 

A Long Island tradition tells how the British camp be- 
came aware of the march which had been stolen upon it.* 

* Hist. Long Island, p. 258. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip<Jtop 189 

Fear the ferry resided a Mrs. Rapelye, whose husband, sus- 
pected of favoring the enemy, had been removed to the 
interior of New Jersey. On seeing the embarkation of 
the first detachment, she, out of loyalty or revenge, sent 
off a black servant to inform the first British ofl&cer he could 
find of what was going on. The negro succeeded in passing 
the American sentinels, but arrived at a Hessian outpost, 
where he could not make himself understood, and was put 
under guard as a suspicious person. There he was kept 
until daybreak, when an officer, visiting the post, examined 
him, and was astounded by his story. An alarm was given, 
the troops were called to arms; Captain Montressor, aid-de- 
camp of General Howe, followed by a handful of men, 
climbed cautiously over the crest of the works and found 
them deserted. Advanced parties were hurried down to the 
ferry. The fog had cleared away sufficiently for them to 
see the rear boats of the retreating army half-way across 
the river. One boat, still within musket-shot, was com- 
pelled to return; it was manned by three vagabonds, who 
had fingered behind to plunder. 

This extraordinary retreat, which, in its silence and 
celerity, equaled the midnight fortifying of Bunker's Hill, 
was one of the most signal achievements of the war, and 
redounded greatly to the reputation of Washington, who, 
we are told, for forty-eight hours preceding the safe extricat- 
ing of his army from their perilous situation, scarce closed 
his eyes, and was the greater part of the time on horseback. 
Many, however, who considered the variety of risks and 
dangers which surrounded the camp, and the apparently 
fortuitous circumstances which averted them all, were dis- 
posed to attribute the safe retreat of the patriot army to a 
peculiar Providence. 

190 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^tOQ IruiQ^ 


Long Island in Possession of the Enemy — Distressed Situation of 
the American Army at New York — Question of Abandoning 
the City — Letters from either Camp — Enemy's Ships in the 
Somid — Removal of Women and Children from the City — 
Yearning for Home among the Militia — Tolerant Ideas of 
Washington and Greene — Fort Constitution — Conference of 
Lord Howe with a Committee from Congress 

The enemy had now possession of Long Island. British 
and Hessian troops garrisoned the works at Brooklyn, or 
were distributed at Bushwick, !N"ewtown, Hell Gate, and 
Flushing. Admiral Howe came up with the main body of 
the fleet, and anchored close to Governor's Island, within 
cannon-shot of the city. 

**Our situation is truly distressing," writes Washington 
to the President of Congress, on the 2d of September. "The 
check our detachment sustained on the 27th ultimo has dis- 
pirited too great a proportion of our troops, and filled their 
minds with apprehension and despair. The militia, instead 
of calling forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly 
opposition in order to repair our losses, are dismayed, intract- 
able, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them have 
gone off; in some instances almost by whole regiments, by 
half ones, and by companies, at a time. . . . With the 
deepest concern, I am obliged to confess my want of confi- 
dence in the generality of the troops. ... Our number of 
men at present fit for duty is under twenty thousand. I 
have ordered General Mercer to send the men intended for 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($toi) 191 

the flying camp to this place, about a thousand in number, 
and to try with the militia, if practicable, to make a diver- 
sion upon Staten Island. Till of late, I had no doubt in my 
own mind of defending this place ; nor should I have yet 
if the men would do their duty, but this I despair of. 

'*If we should be obliged to abandon the town, ought it 
to stand as winter quarters for the enemy? They would 
derive great conveniences from it, on the one hand, and 
much property would be destroyed, on the other. It is an 
important question, but will admit of but little time for 
deliberation. At present, I dare say the enemy mean to 
preserve it if they can. If Congress, therefore, should 
resolve upon the destruction of it, the resolution should be 
a profound secret, as the knowledge will make a capital 
change in their plans.'' 

Colonel Reed, writing on the same day to his wife, says, 
*'I have only time to say that I am alive and well; as to 
spirits, but middling. . . . My country will, I trust, yet be 
free, whatever may be our fate who are cooped up, or are in 
danger of so being, on this tongue of land, where we ought 
never to have been. ' ' * 

We turn to cite letters of the very same date from British 
officers on Long Island, full of rumors and surmises. '*I 
have just heard," writes an English field-officer, "there has 
been a most dreadful fray in the town of New York. The 
New Englanders insisted on setting the town on fire, and 
retreating. This was opposed by the New Yorkers, who 
were joined by the Pennsylvanians, and a battle has been 
the consequence, in which many have lost their lives. By 
the steps our general is taking, I imagine he will effectually 

* Force's American Archives, 5th Series, ii. 123. 

193 ll/orks of U/a8l?i9^toi7 Iruip^ 

cut off their retreat at King's Bridge, by which the island 
of !N"e\v York is joined to the continent." 

An English officer of the guards, writing from camp oa 
the same day, varies the rumor. The Pennsylvanians, ac- 
cording to his version, joined with the !N"ew Englanders 
in the project to set fire to the town; both had a battle with 
the New Yorkers on the subject, and then withdrew them- 
selves from the city — which, "with other favorable circum- 
stances," gave the latter writer a lively "hope that this dis* 
tressful business would soon be brought to a happy issue." 

Another letter gives a different version. "In the night 
of the 2d instant, three persons escaped from the city in a 
canoe, and informed our general that Mr. Washington had 
ordered three battalions of New York Provincials to leave 
New York, and that they should be replaced by an equal 
number of Connecticut troops; but the former, assured that 
the Connecticutians would burn and destroy all the houses, 
peremptorily refused to give up their city, declaring that 
no cause of exigency whatever should induce them to intrust 
the defense of it to any other than her own inhabitants. 
This stubborn and spirited resolution prevailed over the order 
of their commander, and the New Yorkers continue snugly 
in possession of that place." * 

"Matters go on swimmingly," writes another officer. "I 
don't doubt the next news we send you is that New York 
is ours, though in ashes, for the rebel troops have vowed to 
put it in flames if the tory troops get over." 

An American officer writes to an absent New Yorker in 
a different tone. "I hear we shall evacuate your poor city. 
The very thought gives me the horrors!" Still he indulges 

* Force's Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 168. 

Cife of l[/a8l?ir><$tor) 193 

a vague hope of succor from General Lee, who was return- 
ing, all glorious, from his successes at the South. *' General 
Lee," writes he, **is hourly expected, as if from heaven — 
with a legion of flaming swordsmen." It was, however, 
what Leo himself would have termed a mere hrutum 

These letters show the state of feeling in the opposite 
camps, at this watchful moment, when matters seemed 
hurrying to a crisis. 

On the jiight of Monday (Sept. 2d), a forty-gun ship, 
taking advantage of a favorable wind and tide, passed be- 
tween Governor's Island and Long Isjand, swept unharmed 
by the batteries which opened upon her, and anchored in 
Turtle Bay, above the city. In the morning, Washington 
dispatched Major Crane, of the artillery, with two twelve- 
pounders and a howitzer, to annoy her from the New York 
shore. They hulled her several times, and obliged her to 
take shelter behind Blackwell's Island. Several other ships 
of war, with transports and store-ships, had made their 
appearance in the upper part of the Sound, having gone 
round Long Island. 

As the city might speedily be attacked, Washington 
caused all the sick and wounded to be conveyed to Orange- 
town, in the Jerseys, and such military stores and baggage 
as were not immediately needed to be removed, as fast as 
conveyances could be procured, to a port partially fortified 
at Dobb's Ferry, on the eastern bank of the Hudson, about 
twenty-two miles above the city. 

Reed, in his letters to his wife, talks of the dark and 
mysterious motions of the enemy, and the equally dark and 
intricate councils of Congress, by which the army were dis- 
heartened and perplexed. ''We are still here," writes he 
Vol. XIIL— * * * 9 

194 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruii>^ 

on the 6th, *'in a posture somewhat awkward; we think 
(at least I do) that we cannot stay, and yet we do not know 
how to go, so that we may be properly said to be between 
hawk and buzzard." 

The *^ shameful and scandalous desertions," as Washing- 
ton termed them, continued. In a few days the Connecticut 
militia dwindled down from six to less than two thousand. 
'*The impulse for going home was so irresistible," writes 
he, ''that it answered no purpose to oppose it. Though I 
would not discharge them, I have been obliged to acquiesce." 

Still his considerate mind was tolerant of their defection. 
*'Men," said he, ''accustomed to unbounded freedom, cannot 
brook the restraint which is indispensably necessary to the 
good order and government of an army." And again, "Men 
just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life, unac- 
customed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every 
kind of military skill (which is followed by a want of confi- 
dence in themselves, when opposed to troops regularly 
trained, superior in knowledge, and superior in arms), are 
timid and ready to fly from their own shadows. Besides, 
the sudden change in their manner of living brings on an 
unconquerable desire to return to their homes." 

Greene, also, who coincided so much with Washington 
in opinions and sentiments, observes: "People coming from 
home with all the tender feelings of domestic life are not 
sufficiently fortified with natural courage to stand the shock- 
ing scenes of war. To march over dead men, to hear with- 
out concern the groans of the wounded — I say few men can 
stand such scenes unless steeled by habit or fortified bj'* 
military pride." 

Nor was this ill-timed yearning for home confined to the 
yeomanry of Connecticut, who might well look back to their 

Cife of U/a8l?ir7($tor) 195 

humble farms, where they had left the plow standing in the 
furrow, and where everything might go to ruin, and their 
family to want in their absence. Some of the gentlemea 
volunteers from beyond the Delaware who had made them- 
selves merry at the expense of the rustic soldiery of New 
England, were likewise among the first to feel the home- 
ward impulse. "When I look around," said Reed, the 
adjutant-general, "and see how few of the numbers who 
talked so loudly of death and honor are around me, I am 
lost in wonder and surprise. Some of our Philadelphia gen- 
tlemen who came over on visits, upon the first cannon went 
off in almost violent hurry. Your noisy sons of liberty are, 
I find, the quietest on the field." * 

Present experience induced Washington to reiterate the 
opinion he had repeatedly expressed to Congress, that little 
reHance was to be placed on militia enlisted for short periods. 
The only means of protecting the national liberties from 
great hazard, if not utter loss, was, he said, an army en- 
listed for the war. 

The thousand men ordered from the flying camp were 
furnished by General Mercer. They were Maryland troops 
under Colonels Griffith and Richardson, and were a season- 
able addition to his effective forces; but the ammunition 
carried off by the disbanding militia was a serious loss at 
this critical juncture. 

A work had been commenced on the Jersey shore opposite 
Fort Washington, to aid in protecting Putnam's chevaux- 
de-frise which had been sunk between them. This work 
had received the name of Fort Constitution (a name already 
borne by one of the forts in the Highlands). Troops were 

* Life of Reed, i. 231. 

196 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Irulr?^ 

drawn from the flying camp to make a strong encampment 
in the vicinity of the fort, with an able officer to command 
it, and a skillful engineer to strengthen the works. It was 
hoped, by the co-operation of these opposite forts and the 
chevaux-de-frise, to command the Hudson, and prevent the 
passing and repassing of hostile ships. 

The British, in the meantime, forbore to press further 
hostilities. Lord Hovre was really desirous of a peaceful 
adjustment of the strife between the colonies and the mother 
country, and supposed this a propitious moment for a new 
attempt at pacification. He accordingly sent off General 
Sullivan on parole, charged with an overture to Congress. 
In this he declared himself empowered and disposed to com- 
promise the dispute between Great Britain and America, 
on the most favorable terms, and though he could not treat 
with Congress as a legally organized body, he was desirous 
of a conference with some of its members. These, for the 
time, he should consider only as private gentlemen, but if in 
the conference any probable scheme of accommodation should 
be agreed upon, the authority of Congress would afterward 
be acknowledged, to render the compact complete.* 

The message caused some embarrassment in Congress. 
To accede to the interview might seem to waive the question 
of independence; to decline it, was to shut the door on all 
hope of conciliation, and might alienate the co-operation of 
some worthy whigs, who still clung to that hope. After 
much debate, Congress, on the 5th of September, replied 
that, being the representatives of the free and independent 
States of America, they could not send any members to 
confer with his lordship in their private characters, but that, 

* Civil War, vol. i., p. 190. 

Cife of \l/zs\)\T)C^toT) 197 

ever desirous of establishing peace on reasonable terms, they 
would send a committee of their body to ascertain what 
authority he had to treat with persons authorized by Con- 
gress, and what propositions he had to offer. 

A committee was chosen on the 6th of September, com- 
posed of John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Dr. Franklin. 
The latter, in the preceding year, during his residence in 
England, had become acquainted with Lord Howe at the 
house of his lordship's sister, the Honorable Mrs. Howe, 
and they had held frequent conversations on the subject of 
American affairs, in the course of which his lordship had 
intimated the possibility of his being sent commissioner to 
settle the differences in America. 

Franklin had recently adverted to this in a letter to Lord 
Howe. '^Your lordship may possibly remember the tears 
of joy that wet my cheek, when, at your good sister's in 
London, you gave me expectations that a reconciliation 
might soon take place. I had the misfortune to find these 
expectations disappointed. 

'*The well-founded esteem, and, permit me to say, affec- 
tion, which I shall always have for your lordship, makes it 
painful for me to see you engaged in conducting a war, the 
great ground of which, as expressed in your letter, is 'the 
necessity of preventing the American trade from passing 
into foreign channels. ' . . . I know your great motive in 
coming hither was the hope of being instrumental in a recon- 
ciliation ; and I believe that when you find that impossible 
on any terms given to you to propose, you will relinquish 
so odious a command, and return to a more honorable private 

*'I can have no difficulty to acknowledge," replied Lord 

198 U/or^s of U/a8l?iQ^tor) Iruip^ 

Howe, **that the powers I am invested with were never 
calculated to negotiate a reunion with America, under any 
other description than as subject to the crown of Great 
Britain. But I do esteem these powers competent, not only 
to confer and negotiate with any gentlemen of influence in 
the colonies upon the terms, but also to effect a lasting peace 
and reunion between the two countries, were the tempers of 
the colonies such as professed in the last petition of Con- 
gress to the king." * 

A hope of the kind lingered in the breast of his lordship 
when he sought the proposed conference. It was to take 
place on the 11th, at a house on Staten Island opposite to 
Amboy ; at which latter place the veteran Mercer was sta- 
tioned with his flying camp. At Amboy the committee 
found Lord Howe's barge waiting to receive them ; with a 
British ofiScer of rank, who was to remain within the Amer- 
ican lines during their absence, as a hostage. This guar- 
antee of safety was promptly declined, and the parties 
crossed together to Staten Island. The admiral met them 
on their landing, and conducted them through his guards 
to his house. 

On opening the conference, his lordship again intimated 
that he could not treat with them as a committee of Con- 
gress, but only confer with them as private gentlemen of 
influence in the colonies on the means of restoring peace 
between the two countries. 

The commissioners replied that as their business was to 
hear, he might consider them in what light he pleased; but 
that they should consider themselves in no other character 
than that in which they were placed by order of Congress. 

* Franklin's "Writings, v. 103. 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tOQ 199 

Lord Howe then entered into a discourse of considerable 
length, but made no explicit proposition of peace, nor prom- 
ise of redress of grievances, excepting on condition that the 
colonies should return to their allegiance. 

This, the commissioners replied, was not now to be ex- 
pected. Their repeated humble petitions to the king and Par- 
liament having been treated with contempt, and answered 
by additional injuries, and war having been declared against 
them, the colonies had declared their independence, and it 
was not in the power of Congress to agree for them that they 
should return to their former dependent state.* 

His lordship expressed his sorrow that no accommodation 
was likely to take place ; and, on breaking up the conference, 
assured his old friend, Dr. Franklin, that he should suffer 
great pain in being obliged to distress those for whom he 
had so much regard. 

^'I feel thankful to your lordship for your regard," re- 
plied Franklin, good-humoredly ; **the Americans, on their 
part, will endeavor to lessen the pain you may feel by taking 
good care of themselves." 

The result of this conference had a beneficial effect. It 
showed that his lordship had no power but what was given 
by the act of Parliament ; and put an end to the popular 
notion that he was vested with secret powers to negotiate 
an adjustment of grievances. 

* Report of the Comm. to Congress, Sept. 13, 1776« 

200 U/orKs of \JJzsY;ir)(^tor) Wviq^ 


Movements of the Enemy— Councils of War— Question of the 
Abandonment of the City— Distribution of the Army— Ships 
in the East River— The Enemy at Hell Gate— Skirmish at Tur- 
tle Bay — Panic of the Connecticut Militia — Rage and Personal 
Peril of Washington— Putnam's Perilous Retreat from the City 
— British Regale at Murray Hill 

Since the retreat from Brooklyn, Washington had nar- 
rowly watched the movements of the enemy to discover their 
further plans. Their whole force, excepting about four 
thousand men, had been transferred from Staten to Long 
Island. A great part was encamped on the peninsula be- 
tween Newtown Inlet and Flushing Bay. A battery had 
been thrown up near the extremity of the peninsula, to check 
an American battery at Horen's Hook opposite, and to com- 
mand the mouth of Harlem River. Troops were subse- 
quently stationed on the islands about Hell Gate. ''It is 
evident," writes Washington, **the enemy mean to inclose 
us on the island of New York, by taking post in our rear, 
while the shipping secures the front, and thus by cutting off 
our communication with the country oblige us to fight them 
on their own terms, or surrender at discretion ; or by a bril- 
liant stroke endeavor to cut this army in pieces, and secure 
the collection of arms and stores, which, they well know, 
we shall not be able soon to replace."* 

The question was, how could their plans be most success- 
^■.— ^— ■ ______^__^_^_— ^— 

* Letter to the President of Congress. 

Cife of Was\)ir)<^tOT) 201 

fully opposed? On every side he saw a choice of difficulties; 
every measure was to be formed with some apprehension 
that all the troops would not do their duty. History, experi- 
ence, the opinion of able friends in Europe, the fears of the 
enemy, even the declarations of Congress, all concurred in 
demonstrating that the war on the American side should be 
defensive ; a war of posts ; that, on all occasions, a general 
action should be avoided, and nothing put at risk unneces- 
sarily. ''With these views,'* said Washington, "and being 
fully persuaded that it would be presumption to draw out 
our young troops into open ground against their superiors,* 
both in number and discipline, I have never spared the spade 
and pickax." 

In a council of war, held on the 7th of September, the 
question was discussed, whether the city should be defended 
or evacuated. All admitted that it would not be tenable, 
should it be cannonaded and bombarded. Several of the 
council, among whom was General Putnam, were for a total 
and immediate removal from the city ; urging that one part 
of the army might be cut off before the other could support 
it ; the extremities being at least sixteen miles apart ; and 
the whole, when collected, being inferior to the enemy. By 
removing, they would deprive the enemy of the advantage 
of their ships; they would keep them at bay; put nothing 
at hazard; keep the army together to be recruited another 
year, and preserve the unspent stores and the heavy artillery. 
Washington himself inclined to this opinion. Others, how- 
ever, were unwilling to abandon a place which had been 
fortified with great cost and labor, and seemed defensible; 
and which, by some, had been considered the key to the 
northern country ; it might dispirit the troops and enfeeble 
the cause. General Mercer, who was prevented by illness 

20/i U/or^s of U/a8l^ir)(5tor) Iruir)<$ 

from attending the council, communicated his opinion by 
letter. ^'We should keep New York if possible," said he, 
**as the acquiring of it will give eclat to the arms of Great 
Britain, afford the soldiers good quarters, and furnish a 
safe harbor for the fleet." 

General Greene, also, being still unwell, conveyed his 
opinion in a letter to Washington, dated September 5th. He 
advised that the army should abandon the city and island, 
and post itself at King's Bridge and along the Westchester 
shore. That there was no object to be obtained by holding 
any position below King's Bridge. The enemy might throw 
troops on Manhattan Island from their camps on Long Island, 
and their ships on the Hudson, and form an intrenched line 
across it between the city and the middle division of the 
army, and support the two flanks of the line by their ship- 
ping. In such case it would be necessary to fight them on 
disadvantageous terms, or submit. 

The city and island, he observed, were objects not to be 
put in competition with the general interests of America. 
Two-thirds of the city and suburbs belonged to tories ; there 
was no great reason, therefore, to run any considerable risk 
in its defense. The honor and interests of America required 
a general and speedy retreat. But as the enemy, once in 
possession, could never be dislodged without a superior naval 
force; as the place would furnish them with excellent winter 
quarters and barrack room and an abundant market, he 
advised to burn both city and suburbs before retreating. * 

Well might the poor, harassed citizens feel hysterical, 
threatened as they were by sea and land, and their very de- 
fenders debating the policy of burning their houses over their 

* Force's Am. Archives, 6th Series, ii, 182. 

Cife of U/asI^ipi^toi) 203 

heads. Fortunately for them, Congress had expressly for- 
bidden that any harm should be done to New York, trusting 
that, though the enemy might occupy it for a time, it would 
ultimately be regained. 

After much discussion, a middle course was adopted. 
Putnam, with five thousand men, was to be stationed in 
the city. Heath, with nine thousand, was to keep guard on 
the upper part of the island, and oppose any attempt of the 
enemy to land. His troops, among whom were Magaw's, 
Shea's, Hand's, and Miles's Pennsylvanian battalions, and 
Haslet's Delaware regiment, were posted about King's 
Bridge and its vicinity. 

The third division, composed principally of militia, was 
under the command of Generals Greene and Spencer, the 
former of whom, however, was still unwell. It was sta- 
tioned about the center of the island, chiefly along Turtle Bay 
and Kip's Bay, where strong works had been thrown up, to 
guard against any landing of troops from the ships or from 
the encampments on Long Island. It was also to hold itself 
ready to support either of the other divisions. Washington 
himself had his headquarters at a short distance from the 
city. A resolution of Congress, passed the 10th of Septem- 
ber, left the occupation or abandonment of the city entirely 
at Washington's discretion. Nearly the whole of his officers, 
too, in a second council of war, retracted their former opin- 
ion, and determined that the removal of his army was not 
only prudent, but absolutely necessary. Three members of 
the council, however, Generals Spencer, Heath and George 
Clinton, tenaciously held to the former decision. 

Convinced of the propriety of evacuation, Washington 
prepared for it by ordering the removal of all stores, except- 
ing such as were indispensable for the subsistence of the 

;204 U/or^s of U/asI^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

troops while they remained. A letter from a Rhode Island 
officer, on a visit to New York, gives an idea of its agita- 
tions. '*0n the 13th of September, just after dinner, three 
frigates and a forty -gun ship sailed up the East River with 
a gentle breeze, toward Hell Gate, and kept up an incessant 
fire, assisted by the cannon at Governor's Island. The bat- 
teries of the city returned the ships the like salutation. 
Three men agape, idle spectators, had the misfortune of 
being killed by one cannon-ball. One shot struck within 
six feet of General Washington as he was on horseback, 
riding into the fort."* 

On the 14th, Washington's baggage was removed to 
King's Bridge, whither headquarters were to be trans- 
ferred the same evening; it being clear that the enemy 
were preparing to encompass him on the island. "It is 
now a trial of skill whether they will or not," writes Colonel 
Reed, "and every night we lie down with the most anxious 
fears for the fate of to-morrow." f 

About sunset of the same day, six more ships, two of 
them men-of-war, passed up the Sound and joined those 
above. Within half an hour came expresses spurring to 
headquarters, one from Mifflin at King's Bridge, the other 
from Colonel Sargent at Horen's Hook. Three or four 
thousand of the enemy were crossing at Hell Gate to the 
islands at the mouth of Harlem River, where numbers were 
already encamped. An immediate landing at Harlem, or 
Morrisania, was apprehended. Washington was instantly 
in the saddle, spurring to Harlem Heights. The night, 
however, passed away quietly. In the morning the enemy 

* Col. Babcock to Governor Cooke. Am. Archives, 5th 
Series, ii. 443. 

t Reed to Mrs. Reed. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 205 

commenced operations. Three ships of war stood up the 
Hudson, ** causing a most tremendous firing, assisted by 
the cannons of Governor's Island, which firing was returned 
from the city as well as the scarcity of heavy cannon would 
allow." * The ships anchored opposite Bloomingdale, a few 
miles above the. city, and put a stop to the removal by water 
of stores and provisions to Dobbs' Ferry. About eleven 
o'clock the ships in the East River commenced a heavy 
cannonade upon the breastworks between Turtle Bay and 
the city. At the same time two divisions of the troops en- 
camped on Long Island, one British, under Sir Henry Clin- 
ton, and the other Hessian, under Colonet Donop, emerged in 
boats from the deep, woody recesses of Newtown Inlet, and, 
under cover of the fire from the ships, began to land at two 
points between Turtle and Kip's Bays. The breastworks 
were manned by militia who had recently served at Brook- 
lyn. Disheartened by their late defeat, they fled at the first 
advance of the enemy. Two brigades of Putnam's Con- 
necticut troops (Parsons' and Fellows') which had been sent 
that morning to support them, caught the panic, and, re- 
gardless of the commands and entreaties of their ofiicers, 
joined in the general scamper. 

At this moment Washington, who had mounted his horse 
at the first sound of the cannonade, came galloping to the 
scene of confusion; riding in among the fugitives, he en- 
deavored to rally and restore them to order. All in vain. 
At the first appearance of sixty or seventy red coats, they 
broke again without firing a shot and fled in headlong ter- 
ror. Losing all self-command at the sight of such dastardly 
conduct, he dashed his hat upon the ground in a transport of 

* Letter of Col. Babcock to Gov. Cooke. 

206 U/or^s of lI/a8l?ir)^tor) Iruip^ 

rage. *'Are these the men/' exclaimed he, *'with whom I 
am to defend America!" In a paroxysm of passion and de- 
spair he snapped his pistols at some of them, threatening 
others with his sword, and was so heedless of his own danger 
that he might have fallen into the hands of the enemy, who 
were not eighty yards distant, had not an aid-de-camp seized 
the bridle of his horse and absolutely hurried him away.* 

It was one of the rare moments of his life when the vehe- 
ment element of his nature was stirred up from its deep 
recesses. He soon recovered his self-possession, and took 
measures against the general peril. The enemy might land 
another force about Hell Gate, seize upon Harlem Heights, 
the strong central portion of the island, cut off all retreat of 
the lower divisions, and effectually sever his army. In all 
haste, therefore, he sent off an express to the forces encamped 
above, directing them to secure that position immediately; 
while another express to Putnam ordered an immediate re- 
treat from the city to those heights. 

It was indeed a perilous moment. Had the enemy fol- 
lowed up their advantage and seized upon the heights before 
thus occupied, or had they extended themselves across the 
island, from the place where they had effected a landing, the 
result might have been most disastrous to the Americans. 
Fortunately, they contented themselves for the present with 
sending a strong detachment down the road along the East 

* Graydon's Memoirs, Littell's edition, p. 174. General 
Greene, in a letter to a friend, writes: "We made a miser- 
able, disorderly retreat from New York, owing to the con- 
duct of the militia, who ran at the appearance of the enemy's 
advanced guard. Fellows' and Parsons' brigades ran away 
from about fifty men, and left his Excellency on the ground, 
within eighty yards of the enemy, so vexed at the infamous 
conduct of his troops that he sought death rather than life." 

Cife of U/asI^ipt^tor) 207 

River, leading to the city, while the main body, British and 
Hessians, rested on their arms. 

In the meantime, Putnam, on receiving Washington's 
express, called in his pickets and guards, and abandoned the 
city in all haste, leaving behind him a large quantity of pro- 
visions and military stores, and most of the heavy cannon. 
To avoid the enemy, he took the Bloomingdale road, though 
this exposed him to be raked by the enemy's ships anchored 
in the Hudson. It was a forced march, on a sultry day 5 un- 
der a burning sun and amid clouds of dust. His army was 
encumbered with women and children and all kinds of bag- 
gage. Many were overcome by fatigue and thirst, some 
perished by hastily drinking cold water ; but Putnam rode 
backward and forward, hurrying every one on. 

Colonel Humphreys, at that time a volunteer in his divis- 
ion, writes: ''I had frequent opportunities that day of be- 
holding him for the purpose of issuing orders and encourag- 
ing the troops, flying on his horse covered with foam wherever 
his presence was most necessary. Without his extraordinary 
exertions the guards must have been inevitably lost, and it is 
probable the entire corps would have been cut in pieces. 

''When we were not far from Bloomingdale, an aid-de- 
camp came to him at full speed, to inform him, that a col- 
umn of British infantry was descending upon our right. Our 
rear was soon fired upon, and the colonel of our regiment, 
whose order was just communicated for the front to file off 
to the left, was killed upon the spot. With no other loss, 
we joined the army after dark upon the heights of Harlem." * 

Tradition gives a circumstance which favored Putnam's 

* Peabody, Life of Putnam. Sparks' American Biog., 
vii. 189. 

208 U/orl^8 of U[/a8l?ir>^tor> Iruip^ 

retreat. The British generals, in passing by Murray Hill, 
the country residence of a patriot of that name who was of 
the Society of Friends, made a halt to seek some refresh- 
ment. The proprietor of the house was absent ; but his wife 
set cake and wine before them in abundance. So grateful 
were these refreshments in the heat of the day that they lin- 
gered over their wine, quaffing and laughing and bantering 
their patriotic hostess about the ludicrous panic and discom- 
fiture of her countrymen. In the meantime, before they 
were roused from their regale, Putnam and his forces had 
nearly passed by, within a mile of them. All the loss sus- 
tained by him in his perilous retreat was fifteen killed, and 
about three hundred taken prisoners. It became, adds the 
tradition, a common saying among the American officers 
that Mrs. Murray saved Putnam's division of the army.* 


Fortified Camp at King's Bridge — American and British Lines — 
The Morris House — Alexander Hamilton — The Enemy Advance 
— Successful Skirmish — Death of Knowlton — Great Fire in New 
York — Reorganization of the Army — Exchange of Prisoners — 
Daniel Morgan Regained — Delancey's Tory Brigade — Robert 
Rogers, the Partisan — His Rangers — The "Roebuck," "Phoenix'* 
and "Tartar" in the Hudson — Military Movements by Land and 
"Water — Letter of John Jay 

The fortified camp, v^here the main body of the army 
was now assembled, was upon that neck of land several 
miles long, and for the most part not above a mile wide, 
which forms the upper part of Manhattan or New York Isl- 

* Thacher's Military Journal, p. 70. 

Cife of U/asl^io^toi} i09 

and. It forms a chain of rocky heights, and is separated 
from the mainland by Harlem River, a narrow strait, ex- 
tending from Hell Gate on the Sound, to Spyt den Duivel, 
a creek or inlet of the Hudson. Fort Washington occupied 
the crest of one of the rocky heights above mentioned, over- 
looking the Hudson, and about two miles north of it was 
King's Bridge, crossing Spyt den Duivel Creek, and form- 
ing at that time the only pass from Manhattan Island to the 

About a mile and a half south of the fort, a double row 
of lines extended across the neck from Harlem River to 
the Hudson. They faced south toward New York, were 
about a quarter of a mile apart, and were defended by 

There were strong advanced posts about two miles south 
of the outer line; one on the left of Harlem, commanded by 
General Spencer, the other on the right, at what was called 
McGowan's Pass, commanded by General Putnam. About 
a mile and a half beyond these posts the British lines ex- 
tended across the island from Horen's Hook to the Hudson, 
being a continuous encampment, two miles in length, with 
both flanks covered by shipping. An open plain intervened 
between the hostile camps. 

Washington had established his headquarters about a 
quarter of a mile within the inner line ; at a country-seat, 
the owners of which were absent. It belonged, in fact, to 
Colonel Roger Morris, his early companion in arms in Brad- 
dock's campaign, and his successful competitor for the hand 
of Miss Mary Philipse. Morris had remained in America, 
enjoying the wealth he had acquired by his marriage ; but 
had adhered to the royal party, and was a member of the 
council of the colony. It is said that at this time he was re- 

210 U/or^s of U/asl^iQi^top Iruir?^ 

siding in the Highlands at Beverley, the seat of his brother- 
in-law, "Washington's old friend, Beverley Robinson.* 

While thus posted, Washington was incessantly occupied 
in fortifying the approaches to his camp by redoubts, abatis^ 
and deep intrenchments. ''Here," said he, "I should hope 
the enemy, in case of attack, would meet a defeat, if the 
generality of our troops would behave with tolerable bravery ; 
but experience, to my extreme affliction, has convinced me 
that it is rather to be wished than expected. However, I 
trust there are many who will act like men worthy of the 
blessings of freedom." The late disgraceful scene at Kip's 
Bay was evidently rankling in his mind. 

In the course of his rounds of inspection he was struck 
with the skill and science displayed in the construction of 
some of the works, which were thrown up under the direc- 
tion of a youthful captain of artillery. It proved to be the 
same young officer, Alexander Hamilton, whom Greene had 
recommended to his notice. After some conversation with 
him, Washington invited him to his marquee, and thus com- 
menced that intercourse which has indissolubly linked their 
memories together. 

On the morning of the 16th, word was brought to head- 
quarters that the enemy were advancing in three large col- 
umns. There had been so many false reports that Reed, the 
adjutant-general, obtained leave to sally out and ascertain 
the truth. Washington himself soon mounted his horse and 
rode toward the advanced posts. On arriving there he heard 
a brisk firing. It was kept up for a time with great spirit. 
There was evidently a sharp conflict. At length Reed came 

* The portrait of Miss Mary Philipse is still to be seen in 
the possession of Frederick PhilHps, Esquire, at the Grange, 
on the Highlands opposite West Point. 

Cife of U/a8l?ii)^toi> 211 

galloping back with information. A strong detacliment of 
the enemy had attacked the most advanced post, which was 
situated on a hill skirted by a wood. It had been bravely 
defended by Lieutenant-colonel Knowlton, Putnam's favor- 
ite officer, who had distinguished himself at Bunker's Hill; 
he had under him a party of Connecticut rangers, volunteers 
from different regiments. After skirmishing for a time, the 
party had been overpowered by numbers and driven in, and 
the outpost was taken possession of by the enemy. Reed 
supposed the latter to be about three hundred strong, but 
they were much stronger, the main part having been con- 
cealed behind a rising ground in the wood. They were com- 
posed of a battalion of light infantry, another of Royal High- 
landers, and three companies of Hessian riflemen; all under 
command of General Leslie. 

Reed urged that troops should be sent to support the 
brave fellows who had behaved so well. While he was talk- 
ing with Washington, ''the enemy," he says, "appeared in 
open view, and sounded their bugles in the most insulting 
manner, as usual after a fox-chase. I never," adds he, "felt 
such a sensation before; it seemed to crown our disgrace." 

Washington, too, was stung by the taunting note of de- 
rision ; it recalled the easy triumph of the enemy at Kip's 
Bay. Resolved that something should be done to wipe out 
that disgrace, and rouse the spirits of the army, he ordered 
out three companies from Colonel Weedon's regiment, just 
arrived from Virginia, and sent them, under Major Leitch, 
to join Knowlton's rangers. The troops thus united were to 
get in the rear of the enemy, while a feigned attack was 
made upon them in front. 

The plan was partially successful. As the force advanced 
to make the false attack, the enemy ran down the hill, and 

212 U/or^s of U/asl^iQ^toi} Iruii7<$ 

took what they considered an advantageous position behind 
some fences and bushes which skirted it. A firing com- 
menced between them and the advancing party, but at too 
great a distance to do much harm on either side. In the 
meantime, Knowlton and Leitch, ignorant of this change in 
the enemy's position, having made a circuit, came upon them 
in flank instead of in rear. They were sharply received. A 
vivid contest took place, in which Connecticut vied with Vir- 
ginia in bravery. In a little while Major Leitch received 
three bullets in his side and was borne off the field. Shortly 
afterward, a wound in the head from a musket-ball brought 
Knowlton to the ground. Colonel Reed placed him on his 
horse and conveyed him to a distant redoubt. The men, 
undismayed by the fall of their leaders, fought with unflinch- 
ing resolution under command of their captains. The enemy 
were re-enforced by a battalion of Hessians and a company 
of chasseurs. Washington, likewise, sent re-enforcements 
of !N'ew England and Maryland troops. The action waxed 
hotter and hotter; the enemy were driven from the wood 
into the plain, and pushed for some distance; the Ameri- 
cans were pursuing them with ardor, when Washington, 
having effected the object of this casual encounter, and 
being unwilling to risk a general action, ordered a re- 
treat to be sounded. 

It was with difficulty, however, his men could be called 
off, so excited were they by the novelty of pursuing an enemy. 
They retired in good order ; and, as it subsequently appeared, 
in good season, for the main body of the enemy were ad- 
vancing at a rapid rate, and might have effectually reversed 
the scene. 

Colonel Knowlton did not long survive the action. * * When 
gasping in the agonies of death," says Colonel Reed, **all his 

Cife of \lfa&\)'ir)(^toT) 213 

inquiry was whether he had driven in the enemy." He was 
anxious for the tarnished honor of Connecticut. He had the 
dying satisfaction of knowing that his men had behaved 
bravely, and driven the enemy in an open field-fight. So 
closed his gallant career. 

The encounter thus detailed was a small affair in itself, 
but important in its effects. It was the first gleam of success 
in the campaign, and revived the spirits of the army. Wash- 
ington sought to turn it to the greatest advantage. In his 
general orders, he skillfully distributed praise and censure. 
The troops under Leitch were thanked for being the first to 
advance upon the enemy ; and the New England troops for 
gallantly supporting them, and their conduct was honorably 
contrasted with that of the recreant troops at Kip's Bay. Of 
Knowlton, who had fallen while gloriously fighting, he spoke 
as **one who would have done honor to any country." 

The name of Leitch was given by him for the next day's 
parole. That brave officer died of his wounds on the 1st of 
October, soothed in his last moments by that recompense so 
dear to a soldier's heart, the encomium of a beloved com- 

In the dead of the night, on the 20th of September, a 
great light was beheld by the picket guards, looming up 
from behind the hills in the direction of the city. It con- 
tinued throughout the night, and was at times so strong that 
the heavens in that direction appeared to them, they said, as 
if in flames. At daybreak huge columns of smoke were still 
rising. It was evident there had been a great conflagration 
in New York. 

In the course of the morning Captain Montresor, aid-de- 
camp to General Howe, came out with a flag, bearing a let- 
ter to Washington on the subject of an exchange of prison- 

'214: U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^jtOQ Iruip^ 

ers. According to Montresor's account a great part of the 
city had been burned down, and as the night was extremely 
windy, the whole might have been so but for the exertions of 
the officers and men of the British army. He implied it to 
be the act of American incendiaries, several of whom, he in- 
formed Colonel Reed, had been caught in the fact and 
instantly shot General Howe, in his private correspond- 
ence, makes the same assertion, and says they were detected 
and killed on the spot by the enraged troops in garrison. 

Enraged troops, with weapons in their hands, were not 
apt, in a time of confusion and alarm, to be correct judges 
of fact or dispensers of justice. The act was always dis- 
claimed by the Americans, and it is certain their commanders 
knew nothing about it. "We have shown that the destruction 
of the city was at one time discussed in a council of war as 
a measure of policy, but never adopted, and was expressly 
forbidden by Congress. 

The enemy were now bringing up their heavy cannon, pre- 
paratory to an attack upon the American camp by the troops 
and by the ships. What was the state of "Washington's 
army? The terms of engagement of many of his men would 
soon be at an end ; most of them would terminate with the 
year, nor did Congress hold out offers to encourage re-enlist- 
ments. ""We are now, as it were, upon the eve of another 
dissolution of the army," writes he, *'and unless some speedy 
and effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our cause 
will be lost." Under these gloomy apprehensions, he bor- 
rowed, as he said, "a few moments from the hours allotted 
to sleep," and on the night of the 24th of September penned 
an admirable letter to the President of Congress, setting 
forth the total inefficiency of the existing military system, 
the total insubordination, waste, confusion, and discontent 

Cife of U/asl^ip^toi) 215 

produced by it among the men, and the harassing cares and 
vexations to which it subjected the commanders. Nor did 
he content himself with complaining, but, in his full, clearj 
and sagacious manner, pointed out the remedies. To the 
achievements of his indefatigable pen we may trace the most 
fortunate turns in the current of our revolutionary affairs. 
In the present instance his representations, illustrated by sad 
experience, produced at length a reorganization of the army 
and the establishment of it on a more permanent footing. It 
was decreed that eighty-eight battallions should be furnished 
in quotas, by the different States, according to their abilities* 
The pay of the officers was raised. The troops which en- 
gaged to serve throughout the war were to receive a bounty 
of twenty dollars and one hundred acres of land, besides a 
yearly suit of clothes while in service. Those who enlisted 
for but three years received no bounty in land. The boimty 
to officers was on a higher ratio. The States were to send 
commissioners to the army to arrange with the commander- 
in-chief as to the appointment of officers in their quotas ; but, 
as they might occasionally be slow in complying with this 
regulation, Washington was empowered to fill up all va- 

All this was a great relief to his mind. He was gratified 
also by effecting, after a long correspondence with the British 
commander, an exchange of prisoners, in which those cap- 
tured in Canada were included. Among those restored to 
the service were Lord Stirling and Captain Daniel Morgan. 
The latter, in reward of his good conduct in the expedition 
with Arnold, and of **his intrepid behavior in the assault 
upon Quebec, where the brave Montgomery fell," was 
recommended to Congress by Washington for the command 
of a rifle regiment about to be raised. We shall see how 

316 U/orKs of U/a8l?ii7^toi> Iruir>(^ 

^ninently he proved himself worthy of this recommen- 

About this time information was received that the enemy 
were enlisting great numbers of the loyalists of Long Island, 
and collecting large quantities of stock for their support. 
Oliver De Lancey, a leading loyalist of New York, member 
of a wealthy family of honorable Huguenot descent, was a 
prime agent in the matter. He had recently been appointed 
brigadier-general in the royal service, and authorized by 
General Howe to raise a brigade of Provincials; and was 
actually at Jamaica, on Long Island, offering commissions 
of captain, lientenant, and ensign, to any respectable person 
who would raise a company of eeventy men; the latter to 
receive British pay. 

A descent upon Long Island, to counteract these projects, 
was concerted by General GJeorge CUnton of New Yoi^ and 
General Lincoln of Massachusetts, but men and water craft 
were wanting to carry it into effect, and the "tory enlist- 
ments continued." They were not confined to Long Island, 
but prevailed more or less on Staten Island, in the Jerseys, 
up the Hudson as far as Dutchess County, and in West- 
Chester County more especially. Many of the loyalists, it 
must be acknowledged, were honorable men, conscientiously 
engaged in the service of their sovereign, and anxious to put 
down what they sincerely regarded as an unjustifiable re- 
belUon; and among these may be clearly classed the De 
Lanceys. There were others, however, of a different stamp, 
the most notorious of whom, at this juncture, was one Robert 
Rogers of New Hampshire. He had been a worthy com- 
rade of Putnam and Stark in some of their early enterprises 
during the French war, and had made himself famous as 
major of a partisan corps called Rogers' Rangers. Governor 

Cife of \JJz&\)iT)(^\:or) 217 

Trumbull described him as a ^^famous scouter and wood- 
hunter, skilled in waylaying, ambuscade, and sudden attack." 
His feats of arms had evidently somewhat of the Indian 
character. He had since been Governor of Michilimackinac 
(1766), and accused of a plot to plunder his own fort and join 
the French. At the outbreak of the Revolution he played 
a skulking, equivocal part, and appeared ready to join either 
party. In 1775, Washington had received notice that he 
was in Canada, in the service of Carle ton, and had been as 
a spy, disguised as an Indian, through the American camp 
at St. John's. 

Recently, on learning that he was prowling about the 
country under suspicious circumstances, Washington had 
caused him to be arrested. On examination, he declared 
that he was on his way to offer his secret services to Con- 
gress. He was accordingly sent on to that body in custody 
of an officer. Congress liberated him on his pledging him- 
self in writing, "on the honor of a gentleman," not to bear 
arms against the American United Colonies in any manner 
whatever during the contest with Great Britain. 

Scarcely was he liberated when he forfeited his parole, 
offered his services to the enemy, received a colonel's com- 
mission, and was now actually raising a tory corps, to be 
called the Queen's Rangers. All such as should bring 
recruits to his standard were promised commissions, portions 
of rebel lands, and privileges equal to any of his majesty's 

Of all Americans of note enlisted under the royal stand- 
ard, this man had rendered himself the most odious. He 
was stigmatized as an arrant renegade, a perfect Judas 
Iscariot; and his daring, adventurous spirit and habits of 

Indian warfare rendered him a formidable enemy. 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 10 

218 U/orl^s of U/a8l^iQ($top lr\jii)<^ 

Nothing perplexed Washington at this juncture more than 
the conduct of the enemy. He beheld before him a hostile 
army, armed and equipped at all points, superior in num- 
bers, thoroughly disciplined, flushed with success, and 
abounding in the means of pushing a vigorous campaign, 
yet suffering day after day to elapse unimproved. What 
could be the reason of this supineness on the part of Sir 
William Howe? He must know the depressed and disor- 
ganized state of the American camp; the absolute chaos 
that reigned there. Did he meditate an irruption into the 
Jerseys? A movement toward Philadelphia? Did he in- 
tend to detach a part of his forces for a winter's cam- 
paign against the South? 

In this uncertainty, Washington wrote to General Mercer, 
of the flying camp, to keep a vigilant watch from the Jersey 
shore on the movements of the enemy, by sea and land, and 
to station videttes on the Keversink Heights, to give imme- 
diate intelligence should any of the British fleet put to sea. 
At the same time he himself practiced unceasing vigilance, 
visiting the different parts of the camp on horseback. Occa- 
sionally he crossed over to Fort Constitution, on the Jersey 
shore, of which General Greene had charge, and, accom- 
panied by him, extended his reconnoiterings down to Paulus 
Hook, to observe what was going on in the city, and among 
the enemy's ships. Greene had recently been promoted to 
the rank of major-general, and now had command of all the 
troops in the Jerseys. He had liberty to shift his quarters 
to Baskingridge or Bergen, as circumstances might require; 
but was enjoined to keep up a communication with the main 
army, east of the Hudson, so as to secure a retreat in case 
of necessity. 

The security of the Hudson was at this time an object 

Cife of ll/a8t?ii7«$tor7 219 

of great solicitude with Congress, and much reliance was 
placed on Putnam's obstructions at Fort Washington. Four 
galleys, mounted with heavy guns and swivels, were sta- 
tioned at the chevaux-de-frise, and two new ships were at 
hand, which, filled with stones, were to be sunk where they 
would block up the channel. A sloop was also at anchor, 
having on board a machine, invented by a Mr. Bushnell, 
for submarine explosion, with which to blow up the men-of- 
war ; a favorite scheme with General Putnam. The obstruc- 
tions were so commanded by batteries on each shore that it 
was thought no hostile ship would be able to pass. 

On the 9th of October, however, the '* Roebuck" and 
"Phoenix," each of forty-four guns, and the *' Tartar," of 
twenty guns, which had been lying for some time opposite 
Bloomingdale, got under way with their three tenders, at 
eight o'clock in the morning, and came standing up the river 
with an easy southern breeze. At their approach, the galleys 
and the two ships intended to be sunk got under way with 
all haste, as did a schooner laden with rum, sugar, and other 
supplies for the American army, and the sloop with Bush- 
nell' s submarine machine. 

The ''Koebuck," ''Phoenix" and ''Tartar" broke through 
the vaunted barriers as through a cobweb. Seven batteries 
kept up a constant fire upon them, yet a gentleman was 
observed walking the deck of the second ship as coolly as if 
nothing were the matter.* Washington, indeed, in a letter 
to Schuyler, says, "They passed without any kind of damage 
or interruption"; but Lord Howe reports to the admiralty 
that they suffered much in their masts and rigging, and that 
a lieutenant, two midshipmen, and six men were killed, and 
eighteen wounded. 

* Colonel Ewing to the Maryland Comm. of Safety. 

220 * U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^toi) IraiQ^ 

The hostile ships kept on their course, the American ves- 
sels scudding before them. The schooner was overhauled 
and captured; a well-aimed shot sent the sloop and Bush- 
nelPs submarine engine to the bottom of the river. The two 
new ships would have taken refuge in Spyt den Duivel 
Creek, but fearing there might not be water enough, they 
kept on, and drove ashore at Philips' Mills at Yonkers. Two 
of the galleys got into a place of safety, where they were 
protected from the shore ; the other two trusted to outsail 
their pursuers. The breeze freshened, and the frigates 
gained on them fast; at eleven o'clock began to fire on them 
with their bow-chasers, and at twelve o'clock overreached 
them, which caused them to bear in shore ; at half -past one 
the galleys ran aground just above Dobbs' Ferry and lay 
exposed to a shower of grape-shot. The crews, without 
stopping to burn or bilge them, swam on shore, and the 
enemy took possession of the two galleys, which were likely 
to be formidable means of annoyance in their hands. 

One express after another brought Washington word of 
these occurrences. First, he sent off a party of rifle and 
artillery men, with two twelve-pounders, to secure the new 
ships which had run aground at Yonkers. Next, he ordered 
Colonel Sargent to march up along the eastern shore with 
five hundred infantry, a troop of light-horse, and a detach- 
ment of artillery, to prevent the landing of the enemy. Be- 
fore the troops arrived at Dobbs' Ferry, the ships' boats had 
plundered a store there, and set it on fire. 

To prevent, if possible, the men-of-war already up the 
river from coming down, or others from below joining them, 
Washington gave orders to complete the obstructions. Two 
hulks which lay in Spyt den Duivel Creek were hastily 
ballasted by men from General Heath's division, and men 

Cife of \l/^s)[)iT)(^tOT) 221 

were sent up to get off the ships which had run aground at 
Philips' Mills, that they might be brought down and sunk 

It is diflScult to give an idea of the excitement caused by 
this new irruption of hostile ships into the waters of the 
Hudson, or of the various conjectures as to their object. 
They might intend merely to interrupt navigation, and pre- 
vent supplies from coming down to the American army. 
They might be carrying arms and ammunition for domestic 
enemies skulking about the river, and only waiting an oppor- 
tunity to strike a blow. They might have troops concealed 
on board with intent to surprise the posts in the Highlands, 
and cut off the intercourse between the American armies. 
To such a degree had the spirit of disaffection been increased 
in the counties adjacent to the river, since the descent of the 
"Rose" and ''Phoenix," by the retreats and evacuation 
which had taken place, and so great had been the drain on 
the militia of those counties for the army of Washington, 
that, in case of insurrection, those who remained at home, 
and were well affected, would be outnumbered, and might 
easily be overpowered, especially with the aid of troops 
landed from ships. 

While this agitation prevailed below, fugitive river crafts 
carried the news up to the Highlands that the frigates were 
already before Tarrytown in the Tappan Sea. Word was 
instantly dispatched to Peter P. Livingston, president of the 
Provincial Congress, and startled that deliberative body, 
which was then seated at Fishkill, just above the Highlands. 
The committee of safety wrote, on the spur of the moment, 
to Washington. ''Nothing," say they, "can be more alarm- 
ing than the present situation of our State. We are daily 
getting the most authentic intelligence of bodies of men 

222 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ir;($tOQ IruiQ<$ 

enlisted and armed in order to assist the enemy. We much 
fear that they, co-operating with the enemy, may seize such 
passes as will cut off the communication between the army 
and us, and prevent your supplies. . . . We beg leave to 
suggest to your Excellency the propriety of sending a body 
of men to the Highlands or Peekskill, to secure the passes, 
prevent insurrection, and overawe the disaffected." 

Washington transmitted the letter to the President of 
Congress on the 12th. '*I have ordered up," writes he, 
*'part of the militia from Massachusetts, under General 
Lincoln, to prevent, if possible, the consequences which they 
suggest may happen, and which there is reason to believe 
the conspirators have in contemplation. I am persuaded 
that they are on the eve of breaking out, and that they will 
leave nothing unessayed that will distress us, and favor the 
designs of the enemy, as soon as their schemes are ripe for 
it." In fact, it was said that the tories were arming and 
collecting in the Highlands, under the direction of disguised 
officers, to aid the conspiracies formed by Governor Tryon 
and his adherents. 

As a further precaution, an express was sent off by Wash- 
ington to Colonel Tash, who, with a regiment of New Hamp- 
shire militia, was on his way from Hartford to the camp, 
ordering him to repair with all possible dispatch to Fishkill, 
and there hold himself at the disposition of the committee 
of safety. 

James Clinton, also, who had charge of the posts in the 
Highlands, was put on the alert. That trusty officer was 
now a brigadier-general, having been promoted by Congress 
on the 8th of August. He was charged to have all boats 
passing up and down the river rigidly searched, and the 
passengers examined. Besides the usual sentries, a barge 

Cife of U/a8l?ir><$top 223 

well-manned was to patrol the river opposite to each fort 
every night; all barges, rowboats, and other small craft, 
between the forts in the Highlands and the army were to 
be secured in a place of safety, to prevent their falling into 
the enemy's hands and giving intelligence. Moreover, a 
French engineer was sent up to aid in strengthening and 
securing the passes. The commanding officers of the coun- 
ties of Litchfield and Fairfield, in Connecticut, had likewise 
orders to hold their militia in readiness, to render assistance 
in case of insurrections in the State of New York. 

So perilous appeared the condition of affairs to residents 
up the river, that John Jay, a member of the New York 
Convention, and one of the secret committee for the defense 
of the Hudson, applied for leave of absence, that he might 
remove his aged parents to a place of safety. A letter from 
him to Edward Rutledge, of the Board of War, contains 
this remarkable sentence: **I wish our army well stationed 
in the Highlands, and all the lower country desolated ; we 
might then bid defiance to all the further efforts of the enemy 
in that quarter." 

Nor was this a random or despairing wish. It shows a 
brave spirit of a leading civilian of the day, and the sacri- 
fices that true patriots were disposed to make in the cause 
of independence. 

But a few days previously he bad held the following 
language to Gouverneur Morris, chairman of a special com- 
mittee: *'Had I been vested with absolute power in this 
State, I have often said, and still think, that I would last 
spring have desolated all Long Island, Staten Island, the 
city and county of New York, and all that part of the county 
of Westchester which lies below the mountains. I would 
then have stationed the main body of the army in the moun- 

224 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^top IruiQ<$ 

tains on the east, and eight or ten thousand men in the High- 
lands on the west side of the river. I would have directed 
the river at Fort Montgomery, which is nearly at the south- 
em extremity of the mountains, to be so shallowed as to 
afford only depth sufficient for an Albany sloop, and all the 
southern passes and defiles in the mountains to be strongly 
fortified. Nor do I think the shallowing of the river a 
romantic scheme. Rocky mountains rise immediately from 
the shores. The breadth is not very great, though the depth 
is. But what cannot eight or ten thousand men, well 
worked, effect? According to this plan of defense the State 
would be absolutely impregnable against all the world on 
the seaside, and would have nothing to fear except from the 
way of the lake. Should the enemy gain the river, even 
below the mountains, I think I foresee that a retreat would 
become necessary, and I can't forbear wishing that a desire 
of saving a few acres may not lead us into difficulties.'* * 

Three days after this remarkable letter was written, the 
enemy's ships did gain the river; and two days afterward, 
October 11th, Reed, the adjutant-general, the confidant of 
Washington's councils, writes to his wife .from Harlem 
Heights: *'My most sanguine views do not extend further 
than keeping our ground here till this campaign closes. If 
the enemy incline to press us, it is resolved to risk an en- 
gagement, for, if we cannot fight them on this ground, we 
can on none in America. The ships are the only circum- 
stances unfavorable to us here." 

On the same day that this letter was written, a small 
vessel, sloop-rigged with a topsail, was descried from Mount 
Washington coming down the river with a fresh breeze. It 

^ Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 921. 

Cife of U/aslpiQ^top 225 

was suspected by those on the lookout to be one of the British 
tenders, and they gave it a shot from a twelve-pounder. 
Their aim was unfortunately too true. Three of the crew 
were killed and the captain wounded. It proved to be Wash- 
ington's yacht, which had run up the river previously to the 
enemy's ships, and was now on its return. * 


Lee expected in Camp — His Letter of Advice to the President of 
Congress — The Enemy at Throg's Neck — Washington's Arrange- 
ments — Rides to Throg's Neck — The Enemy brought to a Stand 
— Military Movements — Arrival of Lee — A Command assigned 
to him — Criticises the conduct of Congress and the Army — 
Council of War — The Army to move to the Mainland — Fort 
Washington to be kept up 

**If General Lee should be in Philadelphia," writes John 
Jay to Rutledge, ''pray hasten his departure— he is much 
wanted at N"ew York." 

The successes of Lee at the South were contrasted by 
many with the defeat on Long Island and evacuation of New 
York, and they began to consider him the main hope of the 
army. Hazard, the postmaster, writing from Harlem 
Heights to General Gates on the 11th, laments it as a mis- 
fortune that Lee should have been to the southward for 
several months past, but adds cheeringly, "he is expected 
here to-day." 

Joseph Trumbull, the commissary-general, also writes to 
Gates under the same date: "General Lee is to be here this 
evening. He left Philadelphia on the 8th." 

* Heath's Memoirs. 

226 U/orKs of U/a8l7ir>($tor) Iruir};^ 

Lee, the object of so many hopes, was actually in' the 
Jerseys, on his way to the camp. He writes from Amboy 
on the 12th, to the President of Congress, informing him 
that the Hessians, encamped opposite on Staten Island, had 
disappeared on the preceding night, quitting the island 
entirely, and some great measure was believed to be in 
agitation. *'I am confident," writes he, "they will not at- 
tack General Washington's lines; such a measure is too 
absurd for a man of Mr. Howe's genius; and unless they 
have received flattering accounts from Burgoyne, that he 
will be able to effectuate a junction (which T conceive they 
have not), they will no longer remain kicking their heels at 
!N"ew York. They will put the place in a respectable state 
of defense, which, with their command of the waters, may 
be easily done, leave four or five thousand men, and direct 
their operations to a more decisive object. They will in- 
fallibly proceed either immediately up the river Delaware 
with their whole troops, or, what is more probable, land 
somewhere about South Amboy or Shrewsbury, and march 
straight to Trenton or Burlington. On the supposition that 
this will be the case, what are we to do? What force have 
we? What means have we to prevent their possessing them- 
selves of Philadelphia? General Washington's army cannot 
possibly keep pace with them. The length of his route is not 
only infinitely greater, but his obstructions almost insuper- 
able. In short, before he could cross Hudson River they 
might be lodged and strongly fortified on both banks of 
the Delaware. . . . For Heaven's sake, arouse yourselves! 
For Heaven's sake, let ten thousand men be immediately 
assembled and stationed somewhere about Trenton. In my 
opinion, your whole depends upon it. I set out immediately 
for headquarters, where I shall communicate my apprehen- 

Cife of U/a8l?ip($top 227 

sion that such will be the next operation of the enemy, and 
urge the expediency of sparing a part of his army (if he has 
any to spare) for this object." * 

On the very morning that Lee was writing this letter at 
Amboy, Washington received intelligence by express from 
General Heath, stationed above King's Bridge, that the 
enemy were landing with artillery on Throg's Neckf in the 
Sound, about nine miles from the camp. Washington sur- 
mised that Howe was pursuing his original plan of getting 
to the rear of the American army, cutting off its supplies, 
which were chiefly derived from the east, and interrupting 
its communication with the main country. Officers were 
ordered to their alarm posts, and the troops to be ready, 
under arms, to act as occasion might require. Word, at the 
same time, was sent to General Heath to dispose of the 
troops on his side of King's Bridge, and of two militia regi- 
ments posted on the banks of Harlem River opposite the 
camp, in such manner as he should think necessary. 

Having made all his arrangements as promptly as pos- 
sible, Washington mounted his horse and rode over toward 
Throg's Neck to reconnoiter. 

Throg's Neck is a peninsula in Westchester County, 
stretching upward of two miles into the Sound. It was 
separated from the mainland by a narrow creek and a marsh, 
and was surrounded by water every high tide. A bridge 
across a creek connecting with a ruined causeway across the 
marsh led to the mainland, and the upper end of the creek 
was fordable at low water. Early in the morning eighty or 
ninety boats full of men had stood up the Sound from Mon- 

* Am. Archives, 6th Series, ii. 1008. 

t Properly Throck's Neck, from Throckmorton, the name 
of the original proprietor. 

x528 U/orl^s of U/aslpiQ^tor) Iruir><j 

tresor's Island and Long Island, and had landed troops to 
the number of four thousand on Throg's Point, the extremity 
of the neck. Thence their advance pushed forward toward 
the causeway and bridge to secure that pass to the mainland. 
General Heath had been too rapid for them. Colonel Hand 
and his Philadelphia riflemen, the same who had checked 
the British advance on Long Island, had taken up the planks 
of the bridge, and posted themselves opposite the end of the 
causeway, whence they commenced firing with their rifles. 
They were soon re-enforced by Colonel Prescott, of Bunker's 
Hill renown, with his regiment, and Lieutenant Bryant of 
the artillery, with a three-pounder. Checked at this pass, 
the British moved toward the head of the creek; here they 
found the Americans in possession of the ford, where they 
were re-enforced by Colonel Graham, of the New York line, 
with his regiment, and Lieutenant Jackson of the artillery, 
with a six-pounder. These skillful dispositions of his troops 
by General Heath had brought the enemy to a stand. By 
the time "Washington arrived in the vicinity the British had 
encamped on the neck; the riflemen and yagers keeping up 
a scattering fire at each other across the marsh ; and Captain 
Bryant now and then saluting the enemy with his field-piece. 
Having surveyed the ground, Washington ordered works 
to be thrown up at the passes from the neck to the mainland. 
The British also threw up a work at the end of the causeway. 
In the afternoon nine ships, with a great number of schoon- 
ers, sloops, and flat-bottomed boats full of men, passed 
through Hell Gate toward Throg's Point; and information 
received from two deserters gave Washington reason to 
believe that the greater part of the enemy's forces were 
gathering in that quarter. General McDougall's brigade, 
in which were Colonel Smallwood and the independent com- 

Cife of U/a8l7ii7<$toi? 229> 

panies, was sent in the evening to strengthen Heath's divis- 
ion at King's Bridge, and to throw up works opposite the 
ford of Harlem River. 

Greene, who had heard of the landing of the enemy at 
Throg's Neck, wrote over to Washington, from Fort Con- 
stitution, informing him that he had three brigades ready- 
to join him if required. *'If the troops are wanted over 
your side," said he, *'or likely to be so, they should be got 
over in the latter part of the night, as the shipping may 
move up from below, and impede, if not totally stop, the 
troops from passing. The tents upon Staten Island," he 
added, "had all been struck, as far as could be ascertained." 
It was plain the whole scene of action was changing. 

On the 14th, General Lee arrived in camp, where he was 
welcomed as the harbinger of good luck. Washington was 
absent, visiting the posts beyond King's Bridge, and the 
passes leading from Throg's Neck; Lee immediately rode 
forth to join him. No one gave him a sincerer greeting 
than the commander-in-chief; who, diffident of his own 
mihtary knowledge, had a high opinion of that of Lee. He 
immediately gave him command of the troops above King's 
Bridge, now the greatest part of the army, but desired that 
he would not exercise it for a day or two, until he had time 
to acquaint himself with the localities and arrangements of 
the posts; Heath, in the interim, held the command. 

Lee was evidently elevated by his successes at the South, 
and disposed to criticise disparagingly the military opera- 
tions of other commanders. In a letter, written on the day 
of his arrival to his old associate in arms. General Gates, 
he condemns the position of the army, and censures Wash- 
ington for submitting to the dictation of Congress, whose 
meddlesome instructions had produced it. ''Inter nos,^^ 

230 U/or^s of U/ast^iQ^tor) Iruir><^ 

writes he, 'Hhe Congress seem to stumble every step. I 
do not mean one or two of the cattle, but the whole stable. 
I have been very free in delivering my opinion to them. In 
my opinion, General Washington is much to blame in not 
menacing 'em with resignation unless they refrain from 
unhinging the army by their absurd interference. 

''Keep us Ticonderoga; much depends upon it. We 
ought to have an army in the Delaware. I have roared it 
in the ears of Congress, but carent auribus. Adieu, my 
dear friend; if we do meet again — why, we shall smile." * 

In the meantime. Congress, on the 11th of October, 
having heard of the ingress of the ''Phoenix," "Roebuck," 
and "Tartar," passed a resolution that General Washington 
be desired, if it be practicable, by every art, and at what- 
ever expense, to obstruct effectually the navigation of the 
North River between Fort Washington and Mount Constitu- 
tion, as well to prevent the regress of the enemy's vessels 
lately gone up as to hinder them from receiving succors. 

Under so many conflicting circumstances, Washington 
held a council of war on the 16th, at Lee's headquarters, 
at which all the major-generals were present excepting 
Greene, and all the brigadiers, as well as Colonel Knox, 
who commanded the artillery. Letters from the Conven- 
tion and from individual members of it were read, concern- 
ing the turbulence of the disaffected in the upper parts of 
the State; intelligence gained from deserters was likewise 
stated, showing the intention of the enemy to surround the 
camp. The policy was then discussed of remaining in their 
present position on Manhattan Island, and awaiting there 
the menaced attack ; the strength of the position was urged ; 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 1038. 

Cifc of U/a8l7ii?<$toi) 281 

its being well fortified, and extremely difficult of access. 
Lee, in reply, scoffed at the idea of a position being good 
merely because its approaches were difficult. How could 
they think of holding a position where the enemy was so 
strong in front and rear; where ships had the command 
of the water on each side, and where King's Bridge was 
their only pass by which to escape from being wholly in- 
closed? Had not their recent experience on Long Island 
and at New York taught them the danger of such positions? 
'*For my part," said he, *'I would have nothing to do with 
the islands to which you have been clinging so pertinaciously 
— I would give Mr. Howe a fee-simple of them." 

"After much consideration and debate, " says the record of 
the council, "the following question was stated: Whether (it 
having appeared that the obstructions in the North River have 
proved insufficient, and that the enemy's whole force is now in 
our rear on Throg's Point) it is now deemed impossible, in our 
situation, to prevent the enemy from cutting off the communi- 
cation with the country, and compelling us to fight them at all 
disadvantages, or surrender prisoners at discretion?" 

All agreed, with but one dissenting voice, that it was 
not possible to prevent the communication from being cut 
off, and that one of the consequences mentioned in the ques- 
tion must follow. 

The dissenting voice was that of General George Clinton, 
a brave, downright man, but little versed in the science of 
warfare. He could not comprehend the policy of abandon- 
ing so strong a position ; they were equal in number to the 
enemy, and, as they must fight them somewhere, could do 
it to more advantage there than anywhere else. Clinton felt 
as a guardian of the Hudson and the upper country, and 
wished to meet the enemy, as it were, at the very threshold. 

2'62 U/or^s of U/asl^iQ^toi) Irui[>^ 

As the resolve of Congress seemed imperative with regard 
to Fort Washington, that post, it was agreed, should be 
"retained as long as possible." 

A strong garrison was accordingly placed in it, composed 
chiefly of troops from Magaw's and Shee's Pennsylvania 
regiments, the latter under Lieutenant-colonel Lambert 
Cadwalader, of Philadelphia. Shee, having obtained leave 
of absence, Colonel Magaw was put in command of the post, 
and solemnly charged by Washington to defend it to the 
last extremity. The name of the opposite post on the Jersey 
shore, where Greene was stationed, was changed from Fort 
Constitution to Fort Lee, in honor of the general. Lee, in 
fact, was the military idol of the day. Even the family of 
the commander-in-chief joined in paying him homage. Col- 
onel Tench Tilghman, Washington's aid-de-camp, in a letter 
to a friend, writes: '*You ask if General Lee is in health, 
and our people bold. I answer both in the affirmative.* His 
appearance among us has contributed not a little to the 


Army Arrangements — Washington at White Plains — The Enemy at 
Throg's Point — Skirmish of Colonel Glover — Attempt to Sur- 
prise Rogers, the Renegade — Troopers in a rough Country — 
Alarms at White Plains — Cannonading of Ships at Fort Wash- 
ington — March of Lee — Fortified Camp at White Plains — Re- 
connoitering — The Affair at Chatterton Hill — Relative Situation 
of the Armies — Change of Position — Contrast of the Appear- 
ance of the Troops— George Clinton's Idea of Strategy— Move- 
ment of the British Army — Incendiaries at White Plains 

Previous to decamping from Manhattan Island, Wash- 
ington formed four divisions of the army, which were respect- 
ively assigned to Generals Lee, Heath, Sullivan (recently 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ($top 233 

obtained in exchange for General Prescott), and Lincoln. 
Lee was stationed on Valentine's Hill, on the mainland, 
immediately opposite King's Bridge, to cover the transporta- 
tion across it of the military stores and heavy baggage. The 
other divisions were to form a chain of fortified posts, ex- 
tending about thirteen miles along a ridge of hills on the 
west side of the Bronx, from Lee's camp up to the village 
of White Plains. 

Washington's headquarters continued to be on Harlem 
Heights for several days, during which time he was con- 
tinually in the saddle, riding about a broken, woody, and 
half-wild country, forming posts and choosing sites for 
breastworks and redoubts. By his skillful disposition of 
the army it was protected in its whole length by the Bronx, 
a narrow but deep stream, fringed with trees, which ran 
along the foot of the ridge; at the same time his troops 
faced and outflanked the enemy, and covered the roads 
along which stores and baggage had to be transported. On 
the 21st he shifted his headquarters to Valentine's Hill, and 
on the 23d to White Plains, where he stationed himself in 
a fortified camp. 

While he was thus incessantly in action. General, now Sir 
William Howe (having recently, in reward for his services, 
been made a Knight Companion of the Bath), remained 
for six days passive in his camp on Throg's Point, awaiting 
the arrival of supplies and re-enforcements, instead of push- 
ing across to the Hudson and throwing himself between 
Washington's army and the upper country. His inaction 
lost him a golden opportunity. By the time his supplies 
arrived the Americans had broken up the causeway leading 
to the mainland, and taken positions too strong to be easily 

334 U/orl^s of U/asl7iQ<$toi> Iruir)<$ 

Finding himself headed in this direction, Sir William 
re-embarked part of his troops in flat-boats on the 18th, 
crossed Eastchester Bay, and landed on Pell's Point, at the 
mouth of Hutchinson's River. Here he was joined in a few 
hours by the main body, with the baggage and artillery, 
and proceeded through tbe manor of Pelham toward New 
Rochelle, still with a view to get above Washington's army. 

In their march, the British were waylaid and harassed 
by Colonel Glover of Massachusetts, with his own. Reed's, 
and Shepard's regiments of infantry. Twice the British 
advance guards were thrown into confusion and driven back 
with severe loss, by a sharp fire from behind stone fences. 
A third time they advanced in solid columns. The Amer- 
icans gave them repeated volleys, and then retreated with 
the loss of eight killed and thirteen wounded, among whom 
was Colonel Shepard. Colonel Glover, and the officers and 
soldiers who were with him in this skirmish, received the 
public thanks of Washington for their merit and good 

On the 21st, General Howe was encamped about two 
miles north of New Rochelle, with his outposts extending 
to Mamaroneck on the Sound. At the latter place was 
posted Colonel Rogers, the renegade, as he was called, with 
the Queen's Rangers, his newly-raised corps of loyalists. 

Hearing of this. Lord Stirling resolved, if possible, to cut 
off this outpost and entrap the old hunter. Colonel Haslet, 
of his brigade, always prompt on such occasions, undertook 
the exploit at the head of seven hundred and fifty Delaware 
troops, who had fought so bravely on Long Island. With 
these he crossed the line of the British march; came undis- 
covered upon the post; drove in the guard; killed a lieu- 
tenant and several me^, and brought away thirty-six pris- 

Cife of U/asl^ipt^toij 235 

oners, with a pair of colors, sixty stands of arms, and other 
spoils. He missed the main prize, however : Rogers skulked 
off in the dark at the first fire. He was too old a partisan 
to be easily entrapped. 

For this exploit Colonel Haslet and his men were pub- 
licly thanked by Lord Stirling, on parade. 

These, and other spirited and successful skirmishes, while 
they retarded the advance of the enemy, had the far more 
important effect of exercising and animating the American 
troops, and accustoming them to danger. 

While in this neighborhood, Howe was re-enforced by 
a second division of Hessians under General Knyphausen, 
and a regiment of Waldeckers, both of which had recently 
arrived in New York. He was joined, also, by the whole 
of the seventeenth light-dragoons, and a part of the six- 
teenth, which had arrived on the 3d instant from Ireland 
with Lieutenant-colonel (afterward Earl) Harcourt. Some 
of their horses had been brought with them across the sea, 
others had been procured since their arrival. 

The Americans at first regarded these troopers with 
great dread. Washington, therefore, took pains to convince 
them that in a rough, broken country, like the present, full 
of stone fences, no troops were so inefficient as cavalry. 
They could be waylaid and picked off by sharpshooters from 
behind walls and thickets, while they could not leave the 
road to pursue their covert foe. 

Further to inspirit them against this new enemy, he pro- 
claimed, in general orders, a reward of one hundred dollars 
for every trooper brought in with his horse and accouterments, 
and so on, in proportion to the completeness of the capture. 

On the 25th, about two o'clock in the afternoon, intelli- 
gence was brought to headquarters that three or four de- 

236 U/orKs of U/a8l7iQ<$tor> Iruir^^j 

tachments of the enemy were on the march, within four 
miles of the camp, and the main army following in columns. 
The drums beat to arms; the men were ordered to their 
posts; an attack was expected. The day passed away, how- 
ever, without any demonstration of the enemy. Howe de- 
tached none of his force on lateral expeditions, evidently 
meditating a general engagement. To prepare for it, Wash- 
ington drew all his troops from the posts along the Bronx 
into the fortified camp at White Plains. Here everything 
remained quiet but expectant throughout the 26th. In 
the morning of the 27th, which was Sunday, the heavy 
booming of cannon was heard from a distance, seemingly 
in the direction of Fort Washington. Scouts galloped off 
to gain intelligence. We will anticipate their report. 

Two of the British frigates, at seven o'clock in the morn- 
ing, had moved up the Hudson, and come to anchor near 
Burdett's Ferry, below the Morris House, Washington's 
old headquarters, apparently with the intention of stopping 
the ferry and cutting off the communication between Fort 
Lee and Fort Washington. At the same time, troops made 
their appearance on Harlem Plains, where Lord Percy held 
command. Colonel Morgan immediately manned the lines 
with troops from the garrison of Fort Washington. The 
ships opened a fire to enfilade and dislodge them. A bar- 
bette battery on the cliffs of the Jersey shore, to the left of 
the ferry, fired down upon the frigates, but with little effect. 
Colonel Magaw got dow^n an eighteen-pounder to the lines 
near the Morris House, and fired fifty or sixty rounds, two 
balls at a time. Two eighteen-pounders were likewise 
brought down from Fort Lee and planted opposite the 
ships. By the fire from both shores they were hulled re- 

Cife of \l/zs\)iT)<^tOT) 337 

It was the thundering of these cannonades which had 
reached "Washington's camp at White Plains, and even star- 
tled the Highlands of the Hudson. The ships soon hoisted 
all sail. The foremost slipped her cable and appeared to be 
in the greatest confusion. She could make no way, though 
towed by two boats. The other ship, seeing her distress, 
sent two barges to her assistance, and by the four boats she 
was dragged out of reach of the American fire, her pumps 
going all the time. "Had the tide been flood one-half hour 
longer," writes General Greene, '*we should have sunk her.'' 

At the time that the fire from the ships began. Lord Percy 
brought up his field-pieces and mortars, and made an attack 
upon the lines. He was resolutely answered by the troops 
sent down from Fort Washington, and several Hessians were 
killed. An occasional firing was kept up until evening, when 
the ships fell down the river, and the troops which had ad- 
vanced on Harlem Plains drew within their lines again. 

**We take this day's movement to be only a feint," writes 
one of the garrison at Fort Lee; '*at any rate it is little hon- 
orable to the red coats." Its chief effect was to startle the 
distant camp, and astound a quiet country with the thunder- 
ing din of war. 

The celebrated Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of 
Man, and other political works, was a spectator of the affair 
from the rocky summit of the Palisades, on the Jersey shore. 

While these things were passing at Fort Washington, Lee 
had struck his tents, and with the rear division, eight thou- 
sand strong, the baggage and artillery, and a train of wag- 
ons four miles long, laden with stores and ammunition, was 
lumbering along the rough country roads to join the main 
army. It was not until Monday morning, after being on the 
road all night, that he arrived at White Plaing. 

238 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ii><$top In;ir)<$ 

"Washington's camp was situated on high ground, facing 
the east. The right wing stretched toward the south along 
a rocky hill, at the foot of which the Bronx, making an el- 
bow, protected it in flank and rear. The left wing rested on 
a small, deep lake among the hills. The camp was strongly 
intrenched in front. 

About a quarter of a mile to the right of the camp, and 
separated from the height on which it stood by the Bronx 
and a marshy interval, was a corresponding height called 
Chatterton's Hill. As this partly commanded the right 
flank, and as the intervening bend of the Bronx was easily 
passable, Washington had stationed on its summit a militia 

The whole encampment was a temporary one, to be 
changed as soon as the military stores collected there could 
be removed; and now that General Lee was arrived, Wash- 
ington rode out with him and other general officers who 
were off duty to reconnoiter a height which appeared more 
eligible. When arrived at it, Lee pointed to another on the 
north, still more commanding. *' Yonder,'* said he, "is the 
ground we ought to occupy." "Let us go, then, and view 
it," replied Washington. They were gently riding in that 
direction, when a trooper came spurring up his panting 
horse. "The British are in the camp, sir!" cried he. 
"Then, gentlemen," said Washington, "we have other 
business to attend to than reconnoitering. " Putting spurs 
to his horse, he set off for the camp at full gallop, the others 
spurring after him. 

Arrived at headquarters, he was informed by Adjutant- 
general Reed that the picket guards had all been driven in 
and the enemy were advancing; but that the whole Ameri- 
can army was posted in order of battle. "Gentlemen," said 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)($toi} 239 

Washington, turning calmly to his companions, "you will 
return to your respective posts, and do the best you can." 

Apprehensive that the enemy might attempt to get pos- 
eession of Chatterton's Hill, he detached Colonel Haslet with 
his Delaware regiment to re-enforce the militia posted there. 
To these he soon added General McDougall's brigade, com- 
posed of Smallwood's Marylanders, Ritzema's New Yorkers, 
and two other regiments. These were much reduced by sick- 
ness and absence. General McDougall had command of the 
whole force upon the hill, which did not exceed sixteen hun- 
dred men. 

These dispositions were scarcely made when the enemy 
appeared glistening on the high grounds beyond the village 
of White Plains. They advanced in two columns, the right 
commanded by Sir Henry Clinton, the left by the Hessian 
general, De Heister. There was also a troop of horse; so 
formidable in the inexperienced eyes of the Americans. "It 
was a brilliant but formidable sight," writes Heath in his 
Memoirs. **The sun shone bright, their arms glittered; and 
perhaps troops never were shown to more advantage." 

For a time they halted in a wheat field, behind a rising 
ground, and the general ofi&cers rode up in the center to hold 
a consultation. Washington supposed they were preparing 
to attack him in front, and such indeed was their intention ; 
but the commanding height of Chatterton's Hill had caught 
Sir William's eye, and he determined first to get possession 
of it. 

Colonel Rahl was accordingly detached with a brigade of 
flessians to make a circuit southwardly round a piece of 
wood, cross the Bronx about a quarter of a mile below, and 
ascend the south side of the hill ; while General Leslie, with 
a large force, British and Hessian, should advance directly 

5i40 U/orl^s of U/a8}?ii>^toi> Iruir>^ 

in front, throw a bridge across the stream, and charge up 
the hiU. 

A furious cannonade was now opened by the British from 
fifteen or twenty pieces of artillery, placed on high ground 
opposite the hill ; under cover of which the troops of General 
Leslie hastened to construct the bridge. In so doing they 
were severely galled by two field-pieces, planted on a ledge 
of rock on Chatterton's HiU, and in charge of Alexander 
Hamilton, the youthful captain of artillery. Smallwood's 
Maryland battalion, also, kept up a sharp fire of small 

As soon as the bridge was finished, the British and Hes- 
sians under Leslie rushed over it, formed, and charged up 
the hill to take Hamilton's two field-pieces. Three times the 
two field-pieces were discharged, plowing the ascending col- 
umns from hill-top to river; while Smallwood's "blue and 
buff" Marylanders kept up their volleys of musketry. 

In the meantime, Rahl and his Hessian brigade forded 
the Bronx lower down, pushed up the south side of the hill, 
and endeavored to turn McDougall's right flank. The mi- 
litia gave the general but little support. They had been dis- 
mayed at the opening of the engagement by a shot from a 
British cannon, which wounded one of them in the thigh, 
and nearly put the whole to flight. It was with the utmost 
difficulty McDougall had rallied them, and posted them be- 
hind a stone wall. Here they did some sei*vice, until a troop 
of British cavalry, having gained the crest of the hill, came 
on, brandishing their sabers. At their first charge, the mi- 
litia gave a random, scattering fire, then broke and fled in 
complete confusion. 

A brave stand was made on the summit of the hill by 
Haslet, Ritzema, and Smallwood, with their troops. Twic© 

Cife of U/a8l7ir}<$tor) ^41 

they repulsed horse and foot, British and Hessians, until, 
cramped for room and greatly outnumbered, they slowly 
and sullenly retreated down the north side of the hill, where 
there was a bridge across the Bronx. Smallwood remained 
upon the ground for some time after the retreat had begun, 
and received two flesh wounds, one in the hip, the other 
through the arm. At the bridge over the Bronx, the re- 
treating troops were met by General Putnam, who was com- 
ing to their assistance with BealPs brigade. In the rear of 
this they marched back into the camp. 

The loss on both sides, in this short but severe action, 
was nearly equal. That of the Americans was between 
three and four hundred men, killed, wounded, and taken 
prisoners. At first it was thought to be much more, many 
of the militia and a few of the regulars being counted as lost, 
who had scattered themselves among the hills, but after- 
ward returned to headquarters. 

The British army now rested with their left wing on the 
hill they had just taken, and which they were busy intrench- 
ing. They were extending their right wing to the left of 
the American lines, so that their two wings and center 
formed nearly a semicircle. It was evidently their design 
to outflank the American camp, and get in the rear of it. 
The day, however, being far advanced, was suffered to pass 
without any further attack ; but the morrow was looked for- 
ward to for a deadly conflict. Washington availed himself 
of this interval to have the sick and wounded, and as much 
of the stores as possible, removed from the camp. **The two 
armies," says General Heath in his Memoirs, "lay looking 
at each other, within long cannon-shot. In the night time 
the British lighted up a vast number of fires, the weather 

growing pretty cold. These fires, some on the level ground, 
Vol. XIII.—** *11 

242 U/orl^s of U/a8t?ir)^tor> Iruio^ 

some at the foot of the hills, and at all distances to their 
brows, some of which were lofty, seemed to the eye to mix 
with the stars. The American side doubtless exhibited to 
them a similar appearance." 

During this anxious night Washington was assiduously 
occupied throwing back his right wing to a stronger ground ; 
doubling his intrenchments and constructing three redoubts, 
with a line in front, on the summit of his post. These works 
were principally intended for defense against small arms, 
and were thrown up with a rapidity that to the enemy must 
have savored of magic. They were, in fact, made of the 
stalks of Indian corn or maize, taken from a neighboring 
corn field, and pulled up with the earth clinging in masses 
to the large roots. *'The roots of the stalks," says Heath, 
"and earth on them placed in the face of the works answered 
the purpose of sods and fascines. The tops being placed in- 
ward, as the loose earth was thrown upon them, became as 
so many trees to the work, which was carried up with a dis- 
patch scarcely conceivable." 

In the morning of the 29th, when Howe beheld how 
greatly Washington had improved his position and strength- 
ened it, by what appeared to be solidly constructed works, he 
postponed his meditated assault, ordered up Lord Percy from 
Harlem with the fourth brigade and two battalions of the 
sixth, and proceeded to throw up lines and redoubts in front 
of the American camp, as if preparing to cannonade it. As 
the enemy was endeavoring to outflank him, especially on 
his right wing, Washington apprehended one of their objects 
might be to advance a part of their force and seize on Pine's 
Bridge over Croton River, which would cut off his communi- 
cation with the upper country. General Beall, with three 
Maryland regiments, was sent off with all expedition to 

Cife of U[/a8l?ir}($tor) 243 

sectire that pass. It was Washington's idea that, having 
possession of Croton River and the passes in the Highlands, 
his army would be safe from further pursuit, and have time 
to repose after its late excessive fatigue, and would be fresh 
and ready to harass the enemy should they think fit to win- 
ter up the country. 

At present nothing could exceed the warworn condition 
of the troops, unseasoned as they were to this kind of ser- 
vice. A scornful letter, written at this time by a British 
officer to his friend in London, gives a picture of the ragged 
plight to which they were reduced, in this rainy and inclem- 
ent season. ''The rebel army are in so wretched a condi- 
tion, as to clothing and accoutennents, that I believe no na- 
tion ever saw such a set of tatterdemalions. There are few 
coats among them but what are out at elbows, and in a 
whole regiment there is scarce a pair of breeches. Judge, 
then, how they must be pinched by a winter's campaign. 
"We, who are warmly clothed and well equipped, already 
feel it severely ; for it is even now much colder than I ever 
felt it in England." 

Alas for the poor half-naked, weather-beaten patriots, 
who had to cope with these well-fed, well-clad, well-ap- 
pointed mercenaries! A letter written at the very same 
date (October 31), by General George Clinton, shows what, 
in their forlorn plight, they had to grapple with. 

"We had reason," writes he, "to apprehend an attack 
last night, or by daylight this morning. Our lines were 
manned all night in consequence ; and a most horrid night 
it was to lay in cold trenches. Uncovered as we are, daily 
on fatigue, making redoubts, fleches, abatis, and retreat- 
ing from them and the little temporary huts made for our 
comfort before they are well finished, I fear will ultimately 

244 U/orl^s of W a&\)ir)<^tOT) Iruip^ 

destroy our army without fighting.* However," adds he, 
honestly, '*I would not be understood to condemn measures. 
They may be right for aught I know. I do not understand 
much of the refined art of war; it is said to consist in strata- 
gem and deception. " In a previous letter to the same friend, 
in a moment of hurry and alarm, he writes, *'Pray let Mrs. 
Clinton know that I am well, and that she need not be un- 
easy about me. It would be too much honor to die in so 
good a cause. " 

Clinton, as we have before intimated, was an honest and 
ardent patriot, of resolute spirit and plain, direct good sense; 
but an inexperienced soldier. His main idea of warfare was 
straightforward fighting; and he was greatly perplexed by 
the continual strategy which Washington's situation re- 
quired. One of the aides-de-camp of the latter had a truer 
notion on the subject. '^The campaign hitherto," said he, 
**has been a fair trial of generalship, in which I flatter my- 
self we have had the advantage. If we, with our motley 
army, can keep Mr. Howe and his grand appointment at 
bay, I think we shall make no contemptible military figure." f 

On the night of the 31st, Washington made another of 
those moves which perplexed the worthy Clinton. In the 
course of the night he shifted his whole position, set fire to 
the barns and outhouses containing forage and stores which 
there was no time to remove, and, leaving a strong rear 
guard on the heights and in the neighboring woods, retired 
with his main army a distance of five miles, among the high, 
rocky hills about Northcastle. Here he immediately set to 
work to intrench and fortify himself ; his policy at this time 

* George Clinton to John McKesson, Oct, 31. Am. 
Archives, 5th Series, ii. 1312. 

f Tench Tilghman to William Duer, Oct. 31. 

Cifc of U/asl^ip^tOQ M6 

being, as he used to say, *Ho fight with the spade and mat- 

General Howe did not attempt to dislodge him from this 
fastness. He at one time ordered an attack on the rear 
guard, but a violent rain prevented it, and for two or three 
days he remained seemingly inactive. *'A11 matters are as 
quiet as if the enemy were one hundred miles distant from 
us," writes one of Washington's aides on the 2d of Novem- 
ber. During the night of the 4th this quiet was interrupted. 
A mysterious sound was heard in the direction of the British 
camp ; like the rumbling of wagons and artillery. At day- 
break the meaning of it was discovered. The enemy were 
decamping. Long trains were observed defiling across the 
hilly country, along the roads leading to Dobbs' Ferry on 
the Hudson. The movement continued for three successive 
days, until their whole force, British and Hessians, disap- 
peared from White Plains. 

The night after their departure a party of Americans, 
heated with liquor, set fire to the court-house and other edi- 
fices in the village, as if they had belonged to the enemy; 
an outrage which called forth a general order from Wash- 
ington, expressive of his indignation, and threatening the 
perpetrators with signal punishment when detected. We 
notice this matter because, in British accounts, the burning 
of those buildings had been charged upon Washington him- 
self; being, no doubt, confounded with the burning of the 
barns and outhouses ordered by him on shifting his encamp- 

246 U/orKs of U/a8l?ip^tOQ IruiQ^ 


Conjectures as to the Intentions of the Enemy — Consequent Pre- 
cautions — Correspondence with Greene respecting Fort Wash- 
ington — Distribution of the Army — Lee left in Command at 
Northcastle — Instructions to him — Washington at Peekskill — 
Visits to the Posts in the Highlands 

Various were the speculations at headquarters on the 
sudden movement of the enemy. Washington writes to 
General William Livingston (now governor of the Jerseys) : 
*'They have gone toward the North River and King's Bridge. 
Some suppose they are going into winter quarters, and will 
sit down in New York without doing more than investing 
Fort Washington. I cannot subscribe wholly to this opinion 
myself. That they will invest Fort Washington is a matter 
of which there can be no doubt ; and I think there is a strong 
probability that General Howe will detach a part of his 
force to make an incursion into the Jerseys, provided he is 
going to New York. He must attempt something on account 
of his reputation, for what has he done as yet, with his great 

In the same letter he expressed his determination, as soon 
as it should appear that the present maneuver was a real 
retreat, and not a feint, to throw over a body of troops into 
the Jerseys to assist in checking Howe's progress. He, 
moreover, recommended to the governor to have the militia 
of that State put on the best possible footing, and a part 
of them held in readiness to take the place of the State levies, 
whose term of service would soon expire. He advised, also, 

Cife of U/asl7iQ<$tor> 247 

that the inhabitants contiguous to the water should be pre- 
pared to remove their stock, grain, effects, and carriages, on 
the earliest notice. 

In a letter of the same date he charged General Greene, 
should Howe invest Fort Washington with part of his force, 
to give the garrison all possible assistance. 

On the following day (Nov. 8), his aid-de-camp, Colonel 
Tilghman, writes to General Greene from headquarters: 
"The enemy are at Dobbs' Ferry with a great number of 
boats ready to go into Jersey, or proceed up the river. ^^ 

Greene doubted any intention of the enemy to cross the 
river; it might only be a feint to mislead; still, as a precau- 
tion, he had ordered troops up from the flying camp and was 
posting them opposite Dobbs' Ferry, and at other passes 
where a landing might be attempted ; the whole being under 
the command of General Mercer. 

Affairs at Fort Washington soon settled the question of 
the enemy's intentions with regard to it. Lord Percy took 
his station with a body of troops before the lines to the south. 
Knyphausen advanced on the north. The Americans had 
previously abandoned Fort Independence, burned its bar- 
racks, and removed the stores and cannon. Crossing King's 
Bridge, Knyphausen took a position between it and Fort 
Washington. The approach to the fort, on this side, was 
exceedingly steep and rocky; as, indeed, were all its ap- 
proaches, excepting that on the south, where the country 
was more open and the ascent gradual. The fort could not 
hold within its walls above one thousand men ; the rest of 
the troops were distributed about the lines and outworks. 
While the fort was thus menaced, the chevaux de-frise had 
again proved inefficient. On the night of the 5th, a frigate 
and two transports, bound up to Dobbs' Ferry, with supplies 

M8 U/orl^8 of U/aslpiQ^toi) \r{jir)<^ 

for Howe's army, had broken through; though, according 
to Greene's account, not without being considerably shat- 
tered by the batteries. 

Informed of these facts, Washington wrote to Greene on 
the 8th: ^'If we cannot prevent vessels from passing up the 
river, and the enemy are possessed of all the surrounding 
country, what valuable purpose can it answer to hold a post 
from which the expected benefit cannot be had? I am, there- 
fore, inclined to think that it will not be prudent to hazard 
the men and stores at Mount Washington; but as you are 
on the spot, I leave it to you to give such orders as to evacu- 
ating Mount Washington as you may judge best, and so far 
revoking the orders given to Colonel Magaw, to defend it 
to th© last." 

Accounts had been received at headquarters of a consider^ 
able movement on the preceding evening (Nov. 7th), among 
the enemy's boats at Dobbs' Ferry, with the intention, it 
was said, of penetrating the Jerseys, and falling down upon 
Fort Lee. Washington, therefore, in the same letter, directed 
Greene to have all the stores not necessary to the defense 
removed immediately, and to destroy all the stock, the hay 
and grain, in the neighborhood, which the owners refused 
to move. '^ Experience has shown," adds he, **that a con- 
trary conduct is not of the least advantage to the poor in- 
habitants, from whom all their effects of every kind are 
taken without distinction, and without the least satisfac- 

Greene, in reply (Nov. 9th), adhered with tenacity to the 
policy of maintaining Fort Washington. "The enemy," 
said he, "must invest it with double the number of men 
required for its defense. They must keep troops at King's 
Bridge, to cut off all communication with the country, and 

Cife of U/a8l?ii>^tor) 349 

in considerable force, for fear of an attack." He did not 
consider the fort in immediate danger. Colonel Magaw 
thought it would take the enemy until the end of December 
to carry it. In the meantime, the garrison could at any 
time be brought off, and even the stores removed, should 
matters grow desperate. If the enemy should not find it 
an object of importance, they would not trouble themselves 
about it; if they should, it would be a proof that they felt 
an injury from its being maintained. The giving it up 
would open for them a free communication with the country 
by the way of King's Bridge.* 

It is doubtful when or where Washington received this 
letter, as he left the camp at Northcastle at eleven o'clock 
of the following morning. There being still considerable 
uncertainty as to the intentions of the enemy, all his arrange- 
ments were made accordingly. All the troops belonging to 
the States west of the Hudson were to be stationed in the 
Jerseys, under command of General Putnam. Lord Stirling 
had already been sent forward with the Maryland and Vir- 
ginia troops to Peekskill to cross the river at King's Ferry. 
Another division, composed of Connecticut and Massachu- 
setts troops, under General Heath, was to co-operate with the 
brigade of New York militia under General George Clinton, 
in securing the Highland posts on both sides of the river. 

The troops which would remain at Northcastle after the 
departure of Heath and his division were to be commanded 
by Lee. Washington's letter of instructions to that general 
is characterized by his own modesty, and his deference for 
Lee's superior military experience. He suggests, rather 
than orders, yet his letter is sufficiently explicit. ''A little 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 618. 

250 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruir)($ 

time now," writes he, ''must manifest the enemy's designs, 
and point out to you the measures proper to be pursued by 
that part of the army under your command. I shall give 
no directions, therefore, on this head, having the most entire 
confidence in your judgment and military exertions. One 
thing, however, I will suggest, namely, that the appearance 
of embarking troops for the Jerseys may be intended as a 
feint to weaken us, and render the post we now hold more 
vulnerable, or the enemy may find that troops are assembled 
with more expedition, and in greater numbers, than they 
expected, on the Jersey shore to oppose them ; and, as it is 
possible, from one or other of these motives, that they may 
yet pay the party under your command a visit, it will be 
unnecessary, I am persuaded, to recommend to you the pro- 
priety of putting this post, if you stay at it, into a proper 
posture of defense, and guarding against surprises. But 
I would recommend it to your consideration whether, under 
the suggestion above, your retiring to Croton Bridge, and 
some strong post still more easterly (covering the passes 
through the Highlands), may not be more advisable than 
to run the hazard of an attack with unequal numbers. At 
any rate, I think all your baggage and stores, except such 
as are necessary for immediate use, ought to be to the north- 
ward of Croton River. . . . You will consider the post at 
Croton's (or Pine's) Bridge as under your immediate care. 
... If the enemy should remove the whole, or the greater 
part of their force to the west side of Hudson's River, I have 
no doubt of your following with all possible dispatch, leav- 
ing the militia and invalids to cover the frontiers of Con- 
necticut in case of need." 

"We have been minute in stating these matters, from their 
bearing on subsequent operations. 

Cife of U/asl^ipc^top • 251 

On the 10th of November, Washington left the camp at 
Northcastle at eleven o'clock, and arrived at Peekskill at 
sunset; whither General Heath, with his division, had pre- 
ceded him by a few hours. Lord Stirling was there, like- 
wise, having effected the transportation of the Maryland 
and Virginia troops across the river, and landed them at 
the ferry south of Stony Point; though a better landing 
was subsequently found north of the point. His lordship 
had thrown out a scouting party in the advance, and a hun- 
dred men to take possession of a gap in the mountain, through 
which a road passed toward the Jerseys. 

Washington was now at the entrance of the Highlands, 
that grand defile of the Hudson, the object of so much pre- 
caution and solicitude. On the following morning, accom- 
panied by Generals Heath, Stirling, James and George 
Clinton, Mifflin, and others, he made a military visit in 
boats to the Highland posts. Fort Montgomery was in a 
considerable state of forwardness, and a work in the vicinity 
was projected to co-operate with it. Fort Constitution com- 
manded a sudden bend of the river, but Lord Stirling, in 
his report of inspection, had intimated that the fort itself 
was commanded by West Point opposite. A glance of the 
eye, without going on shore, was sufficient to convince Wash- 
ington of the fact. A fortress subsequently erected on that 
point has been considered the Key of the Highlands. 

On the morning of the 12th, at an early hour, Washing- 
ton rode out with General Heath to reconnoiter the east side 
of the Hudson, at the gorge of the Highlands. Henry 
Wisner, in a report to the New York Convention, had men- 
tioned a hill to the north of Peekskill, so situated, with the 
road winding along the side of it, that ten men on the top, 
by rolling down stones, might prevent ten thousand from 

^52 • U/or^s of U/a8l?lQ^toi) Iruli7<$ 

passing. *'I believe," said he, ''nothing more need be done 
than to keep great quantities of stones at the different places 
where the troops must pass, if they attempt penetrating 
the mountains." 

Near Robinson's Bridge, in this vicinity, about two miles 
from Peekskill, Washington chose a place where troops 
should be stationed, to cover the south entrance into the 
mountains; and here, afterward, was established an im- 
portant military depot called Continental Village. 

On the same day (12th) he wrote to General Lee, inclos- 
ing a copy of resolutions just receiv^ed from Congress, re- 
specting levies for the new army, showing the importance 
of immediately beginning the recruiting service. If no com- 
missioners arrived from Rhode Island, he was to appoint the 
officers recommended to that State by General Greene. *'I 
cannot conclude," adds he, ** without reminding you of the 
military and other stores about your encampment, and at 
Northcastle, and to press the removal of them above Croton 
Bridge, or such other places of security as you may think 
proper. General Howe, having sent no part of his force 
to Jersey yet, makes the measure more necessary, as he may 
turn his views another way, and attempt their destruction." 

It was evidently Washington's desire that Lee should post 
himself, as soon as possible, beyond the Croton, where he 
would be safe from surprise, and at hand to throw his troops 
promptly across the Hudson, should the Jerseys be invaded. 

Having made all these surveys and arrangements, Wash- 
ington placed Heath in the general command of the High- 
lands, with written instructions to fortify the passes with all 
possible dispatch, and directions how the troops were to be 
distributed on both sides of the river; and here we take 
occasion to give some personal notice of this trusty officer. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip«$top 253 

Heath was now in the fortieth year of his age. Like 
many of the noted officers of the Revolution, he had been 
brought up in rural life, on a hereditary farm near Boston; 
yet, according to his own account, though passionately fond 
of agricultural pursuits, he had, also, almost from childhood, 
a ^great relish for military aiBEairs, and had studied every 
treatise on the subject in the English language, so that he 
considered himself ''fully acquainted with the theory of war 
in all its branches and duties, from the private soldier to the 
commander-in-chief. ' ' 

He describes himself to be of middling stature, light com- 
plexion, very corpulent, and bald-headed, so that the French 
officers who served in America compared him, in person, to 
the Marquis of Granby.* 

Such was the officer intrusted with the command of the 
Highland passes, and encamped at Peekskill, their portal. 
"We shall find him faithful to his trust ; scrupulous in obey- 
ing the letter of his instructions; but sturdy and punctilious 
in resisting any undue assumption of authority. 


Affairs on Lake Champlain — Gates at Ticonderoga — Arnold's Flo- 
tilla — Military Preparations of Sir Guy Carleton at St. John's — 
Nautical Encounters — Gallant Conduct of Arnold and Water- 
bury — Carleton in Possession of Crown Point — His Return to 
Canada and Winter Quarters - 

During his brief and busy sojourn at Peekskill, Wash- 
ington received important intelligence from the Northern 

* Heath's Memoirs. 

254 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

army ; especially that part of it on Lake Champlain, under 
the command of General Gates. A slight retrospect of 
affairs in that quarter is proper before we proceed to nar- 
rate the eventful campaign in the Jerseys. 

The preparations for the defense of Ticonderoga and the 
nautical service on the lake had met with difficulties at every 
step. At length, by the middle of August, a small flotilla 
was completed, composed of a sloop and schooner, each of 
twelve guns (six- and four-pounders), two schooners mount- 
ing eight guns each, and five gondolas, each of three guns. 
The flotilla was subsequently augmented, and the command 
given by Gates to Arnold, in compliance with the advice of 
Washington, who had a high opinion of that officer's energy, 
intrepidity, and fertility in expedients. 

Sir Guy Carleton, in the meantime, was straining every 
nerve for the approaching conflict. The successes of the 
British forces on the seaboard had excited the zealous rivalry 
of the forces in Canada. The commanders, newly arrived, 
were fearful the war might be brought to a close before they 
could have an opportunity to share in the glory. Hence the 
ardor with which they encountered and vanquished obstacles 
which might otherwise have appeared insuperable. Vessels 
were brought from England in pieces, and put together at 
St. John's; boats of various kinds and sizes were transported 
overland, or dragged up the rapids of the Sorel. The sol- 
diers shared with the seamen in the toil. The Canadian 
farmers, also, were taken from their agricultural pursuits, 
and compelled to aid in these, to them, unprofitable labors. 
Sir Guy was full of hope and ardor. Should he get the 
command of Lakes Champlain and George, the northern 
part of New York would be at his mercy ; before winter set 
in he might gain possession of Albany. He would then be 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 266 

able to co-operate with General Howe in severing and sub- 
duing the northern and southern provinces, and bringing 
the war to a speedy and triumphant close. 

In despite of every exertion, three months elapsed before 
his armament was completed. Winter was fast approaching. 
Before it arrived, the success of his brilliant plan required 
that he should fight his way across Lake Champlain ; carry 
the strong posts of Crown Point and Ticonderoga ; traverse 
Lake George, and pursue a long and dangerous march 
through a wild and rugged country, beset with forests and 
morasses, to Albany. That was the first post to the south- 
ward where he expected to find rest and winter quarters 
for his troops. * 

By the month of October, between twenty and thirty sail 
were afloat and ready for action. The flagship (the "In- 
flexible") mounted eighteen twelve-pounders; the rest were 
gunboats, a gondola, and a fiat-bottomed vessel called a 
radeau, and named the '* Thunderer"; carrying a battery 
of six twenty-four and twelve six-pounders, besides how- 
itzers. The gunboats mounted brass field-pieces and howitz- 
ers. Seven hundred seamen navigated the fleet ; two hun- 
dred of them were volunteers from the transports. The 
guns were worked by detachments from the corps of artil- 
lery. In a word, according to British accounts, "no equip- 
ment of the kind was ever better appointed, or more amply 
furnished with every kind of provision necessary for the 
intended service." f 

Captain Pringle conducted the armament, but Sir Guy 
Carleton was too full of zeal and too anxious for the event 
not to head the enterprise ; he accordingly took his statiora 

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 212. f Idem., p. 211. 

J356 U/orl^s of U/a8l?li>^toi> In;iQ9 

on the deck of the flagship. They made sail early in 
October, in quest of the American squadron, which was said 
to be abroad upon the lake. Arnold, however, being igno- 
rant of the strength of the enemy, and unwilling to en- 
counter a superior force in the open lake, had taken his post 
under cover of Valcour Island, in the upper part of a deep 
channel, or strait, between that island and the mainland. 
His force consisted of three schooners, two sloops, three 
galleys, and eight gondolas; carrying in all seventy guns, 
many of them eighteen-pounders. 

The British ships, sweeping past Cumberland Head with 
a fair wind and flowing sail on the morning of the 11th, had 
left the southern end of Valcour Island astern, when they 
discovered Arnold's flotilla anchored behind it, in a line 
extending across the strait, so as not to be outflanked. They 
immediately hauled close to the wind, and tried to beat up 
into the channel. The wind, however, did not permit the 
largest of them to enter. Arnold took advantage of the 
circumstance. He was on board of the galley ^'Congress," 
and leaving the line, advanced with two other galleys and 
the schooner *' Royal Savage," to attack the smaller vessels 
as they entered, before the large ones could come up. About 
twelve o'clock the enemy's schooner ''Carleton" opened a 
brisk fire upon the "Royal Savage" and the galleys. It was 
as briskly returned. Seeing the enemy's gunboats approach- 
ing, the Americans endeavored to return to the line. In so 
doing, the ''Royal Savage" ran aground. Her crew set her 
on fire and abandoned her. In about an hour the British 
brought all their gunboats in a range across the lower chan- 
nel, within musket-shot of the Americans, the schooner 
**Carleton" in the advance. They landed, also, a large 
number of Indians on the island, to keep up a galling fire 

Cife of \I/asI?iQ^tor? 'Z67 

from the shore upon the Americans with their rifles. The 
action now became general, and was severe and sanguinary. 
The Americans, finding themselves thus hemmed in by a 
superior force, fought with desperation. Arnold pressed 
with his galley into the hottest of the fight. The "Con- 
gress" was hulled several times, received seven shots be- 
tween wind and water, was shattered in mast and rigging, 
and many of the crew were killed and wounded. The ardor 
of Arnold increased with his danger. He cheered on his 
men by voice and example, often pointing the guns with 
bis own hands. He was ably seconded by Brigadier-general 
Waterbury, in the *' Washington'' galley, which, like his 
own vessel, was terribly cut up. The contest lasted through- 
out the day. Carried on as it was within a narrow compass, 
and on a tranquil lake, almost every shot took effect. The 
fire of the Indians from the shore was less deadly than had 
been expected; but their whoops and yells, mingling with 
the rattling of the musketry and the thundering of the can- 
non, increased the horrors of the scene. Volumes of smoke 
rose above the woody shores, which echoed with the unusual 
din of war, and for a time this lovely recess of a beautiful 
and peaceful lake was rendered a perfect pandemonium. 

The evening drew nigh, yet the contest was undecided. 
Captain Pringle, after a consultation with Sir Guy Carleton, 
called off the smaller vessels which had been engaged, and 
anchored his whole squadron in a line as near as possible to 
the Americans, so as to prevent their escape; trusting to 
capture the whole of them when the wind should prove 
favorable, so that he could bring his large vessels into 

Arnold, however, sensible that with his inferior and 
crippled force all resistance would be unavailing, took ad- 

^58 U/orl^s of lI/a8l?ir>^toi7 \rvlr)(^ 

vantage of a dark, cloudy night and a strong north wind; 
his vessels slipped silently through the enemy's line without 
being discovered, one following a light on the stern of the 
other; and by daylight they were out of sight. They had 
to anchor, however, at Schuyler's Island, about ten miles 
up the lake, to stop leaks and make repairs. Two of the 
gondolas were here sunk, being past remedy. About noon 
the retreat was resumed, but the wind had become adverse ; 
and they made little progress. Arnold's galley, the ''Con- 
gress," the "Washington" galley, and four gondolas, all 
which had suffered severely in the late fight, fell astern of 
the rest of the squadron in the course of the night. In the 
morning, when the sun lifted a fog which had covered the 
lake, they beheld the enemy within a few miles of them 
in full chase, while their own comrades were nearly out of 
sight, making the best of their way for Crown Point. 

It was now an anxious trial of speed and seamanship. 
Arnold, with the crippled relics of his squadron, managed 
by noon to get within a few leagues of Crown Point, where 
they were overtaken by the "Inflexible," the "Carleton," 
and the schooner " Maria, " of fourteen guns. As soon as 
they came up they poured in a tremendous fire. The "Wash- 
ington" galley, already shattered, and having lost most of 
her officers, was compelled to strike, and General Waterbury 
and the crew were taken prisoners. Arnold had now to bear 
the brunt of the action. For a long time he was engaged 
within musket-shot with the "Inflexible" and the two schoon- 
ers, until his galley was reduced to a wreck, and one-third 
of the crew were killed. The gondolas were nearly in the 
same desperate condition ; yet the men stood stoutly to their 
guns. Seeing resistance vain, Arnold determined that neither 
vessels nor crew should fall into the hands of the enemy. 

Cife of \JJzsl[)\T)<^tor) 259 

He ordered the gondolas to run on shore, in a small creek 
in the neighborhood, the men to set fire to them as soon as 
they grounded, to wade on shore with their muskets, and 
keep off the enemy until they were consumed. He did the 
same with his own galley ; remaining on board of her until 
she was in flames, lest the enemy should get possession and 
strike his flag, which was kept flying to the last. 

He now set off with his gallant crew, many of whom 
were wounded, by a road through the woods to Crown Point, 
where he arrived at night, narrowly escaping an Indian 
ambush. Two schooners, two galleys, one sloop and one 
gondola, the remnant which had escaped of this squadron, 
were at anchor at the Point, and General Waterbury and 
most of his men arrived there the next day on parole. See- 
ing that the place must soon fall into the hands of the enemy, 
they set fire to the houses, destroyed everything they could 
not carry away, and embarking in the vessels, made sail for 

The loss of the Americans in these two actions is said to 
have been between eighty and ninety men ; that of the British 
about forty. It is worthy of mention that among the young 
officers in Sir Guy Carleton's squadron was Edward Pellew, 
who afterward rose to renown as Admiral Viscount Ex- 
mouth; celebrated, among other things, for his victory at 

The conduct of Arnold in these naval affairs gained him 
new laurels. He was extolled for the judgment with which 
he chose his position and brought his vessels into action ; for 
his masterly retreat, and for the self-sacrificing devotion with 
which he exposed himself to the overwhelming force of the 
enemy in covering the retreat of part of his flotilla. 

Sir Guy Carleton took possession of the ruined works at 

2G0 U/or^8 of U/a8l7ir>^tOQ Iruip^ 

Crown Point, where he was soon joined by the army. He 
made several movements by land and water, as if meditat- 
ing an attack upon Ticonderoga; pushing strong detach- 
ments on both sides of the lake, which approached within 
a small distance of the fort, while one vessel appeared with- 
in cannon shot of a lower battery, sounding the depth of the 
channel, until a few shot obliged her to retire. General 
Gates, in the meantime, strengthened his works with inces- 
sant assiduity, and made every preparation for an obstinate 
defense. A strong easterly wind prevented the enemy's 
ships from advancing to attack the lines, and gave time for 
the arrival of re-enforcements of militia to the garrison. It 
also afforded time for Sir Guy Carleton to cool in ardor, and 
calculate the chances and the value of succesSc The post, 
from its strength and the apparent number and resolution of 
the garrison, could not be taken without great loss of life. 
If taken, the season was now too far advanced to think of 
passing Lake George and exposing the army to the perils 
of a winter campaign in the inhospitable and impracticable 
wilds to the southward. Ticonderoga, too, could not be kept 
during the winter, so that the only result of the capture 
would be the reduction of the works and the taking of some 
cannon; all which damage the Americans could remedy be- 
fore the opening of the summer campaign. If, however, the 
defense should be obstinate, the British army, even if suc- 
cessful, might sustain a loss sufficient to cripple its operations 
in the coming year,* 

These, and other prudential reasons, induced Carleton to 
give up all attempt upon the fortress. at present; wherefore, 
re-embarking his troops, he returned to St. John's, and can- 

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. J^14. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 261 

toned them in Canada for the winter. It was not until about 
the 1st of November that a reconnoitering party, sent out 
from Ticonderoga by General Gates, brought him back in- 
telligence that Crown Point was abandoned by the enemy, 
and not a hostile sail in sight. All apprehensions of an at- 
tack upon Ticonderoga during the present year were at an 
end, and many of the troops stationed there were already on 
their march toward Albany. 

Such was the purport of the news from the north, re 
ceived by "Washington at Peekskill. It relieved him for the 
present from all anxiety respecting affairs on Lake Cham- 
plain, and gave him the prospect of re-enforcements from 
that quarter. 


Washington crosses the Hudson — Arrives at Fort Lee — Affairs at 
Fort Washington — Question about its Abandonment — Move- 
ments of Howe — The Fort summoned to Surrender — Refusal 
of Colonel Magaw — The Fort attacked — Capture of the Fort 
and Garrison — Comments of Washington on the State of Affairs 

On the morning of the 12th of November, Washington 
crossed the Hudson to the ferry below Stony Point, with the 
residue of the troops destined for the Jerseys. Far below 
were to be descried the *' Phoenix,'' the '' Roebuck,'' and the 
*' Tartar" at anchor in the broad waters of Haverstraw Bay 
and the Tappan Sea, guarding the lower ferries. The army, 
thus shut out from the nearer passes, was slowly winding its 
way by a circuitous route through the gap in the mountains, 
which Lord Stirling had secured. Leaving the troops which 
had just landed to pursue the same route to the Hackensack, 
Washington, accompanied by Colonel Reed, struck a direct 

262 U/orKs of U/a8l7ii}<$tor) Iruir7(5 

course for Fort Lee, being anxious about affairs at Fort 
"Washington. He arrived there on the following day, and 
found, to his disappointment, that General Greene had taken 
no measures for the evacuation of that fortress ; but, on the 
contrary, had re-enforced it with a part of Colonel Durkee's 
regiment, and the regiment of Colonel Rawliugs, so that its 
garrison now numbered upward of two thousand men; a 
great part, however, were militia. Washington's orders for 
its evacuation had, in fact, been discretionary, leaving the 
execution of them to Greene's judgment, ''as being on the 
spot." The latter had differed in opinion as to the policy of 
such a measure; and Colonel Magaw, who had charge of the 
fortress, was likewise confident it might be maintained. 

Colonel Reed was of opposite counsels ; but then he was 
personally interested in the safety of the garrison. It was 
composed almost entirely of Pennsylvania troops, under Ma- 
gaw and Lambert Cadwalader; excepting a small detach- 
ment of Maryland riflemen commanded by Otho H. Wil- 
liams. They were his friends and neighbors, the remnant 
of the brave men who had suffered so severely under Atlee 
and Small wood.* The fort was now invested on all sides 
but one ; and the troops under Howe which had been en • 
camped at Dobbs' Ferry were said to be moving down to- 
ward it. Reed's solicitude was not shared by the garrison 
itself. Colonel Magaw, its brave commander, still thought 
it was in no immediate danger. 

Washington was much perplexed. The main object of 
Howe was still a matter of doubt with him. He could not 
think that Sir William was moving his whole force upon that 
fortress, to invest which a part would be sufficient. He ex- 

* W. B. Reed's Life of Reed, i. 252. 

Cife of U/a8l7ir><$t:oi) 263 

pected an ulterior object, probably a Southern expedition, as 
he was told a large number of ships were taking in wood 
and water at New York. He resolved, therefore, to con- 
tinue a few days in this neighborhood, during which he 
trusted the designs of the enemy would be more apparent ; 
in the meantime he would distribute troops at Brunswick, 
Amboy, Elizabethtown, and Fort Lee, so as to be ready 
at these various points to check any incursions into the 

In a letter to the President of Congress, he urged for an 
increase of ordnance and field-artillery. The rough, hilly 
country east of the Hudson, and the strongholds and fast- 
nesses of which the Americans had possessed themselves, 
had prevented the enemy from profiting by the superiority 
of their artillery ; but this would not be the case should the 
scene of action change to an open campaign country like 
the Jerseys. 

"Washington was mistaken in his conjecture as to Sir "Wil- 
liam Howe's design. The capture of Fort "Washington was, 
at present, his main object; and he was encamped on Ford- 
ham Heights, not far from King's Bridge, until preliminary 
steps should be taken. In the night of the 14th, thirty flat- 
bottomed boats stole quietly up the Hudson, passed the 
American forts undiscovered, and made their way through 
Spyt den Duivel Creek into Harlem River. The means 
were thus provided for crossing that river and landing be- 
fore unprotected parts of the American works. 

On the 15th, General Howe sent in a summons to surren- 
der with a threat of extremities should he have to carry the 
place by assault. Magaw, in his reply, intimated a doubt 
that General Howe would execute a threat "so unworthy of 
himself and the British nation; but give me leave," added 

'Z64: U/or^s of U/as}7ii7^tor> Iruir)^ 

he, **to assure his Excellency that, actuated by the most glo* 
rious cause that mankind ever fought in, I am determined to 
defend this post to the very last extremity." 

Apprised by the colonel of his peril, General Greene sent 
over re-enforcements, with an exhortation to him to persist 
in his defense; and dispatched an express to Washington, 
who was at Hackensack, where the troops which had crossed 
from Peekskill were encamped. It was nightfall when Wash- 
ington arrived at Fort Lee. Greene and Putnam were over 
at the besieged fortress. He threw himself into a boat, and 
had partly crossed the river, when he met those generals re- 
turning. They informed him of the garrison's having been 
re-enforced, and assured him that it was in high spirits and 
capable of making a good defense. It was with difficulty, 
however, they could prevail on him to return with them to 
the Jersey shore, for he was excessively excited. 

Early the next morning (16th), Magaw made his disposi- 
tions for the expected attack. His forces, with the recent 
additions, amounted to nearly three thousand men. As the 
fort could not contain above a third of that number, most of 
them were stationed about the outworks. 

Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, with eight hundred Penn- 
sylvanians, was posted in the outer lines, about two miles 
and a half south of the fort, the side menaced by Lord Percy 
with sixteen hundred men. Colonel Rawlings of Maryland, 
with a body of troops, many of them riflemen, was stationed 
by a three-gun battery on a rocky, precipitous hill north of 
the fort, and between it and Spyt den Duivel Creek, Colonel 
Baxter, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his regiment 
of mihtia, was posted east of the fort, on rough, woody 
heights, bordering the Harlem River, to watch the motions 
of the enemy, who had thrown up redoubts on high and 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 266 

commanding ground, on the opposite side of the river, ap- 
parently to cover the crossing and landing of troops. 

Sir William Howe had planned four simultaneous at- 
tacks ; one on the north by Knyphausen, who was encamped 
on the York side of King's Bridge, within cannon-shot of 
Fort Washington, but separated from it by high and rough 
hills, covered with almost impenetrable woods. He was to 
advance in two columns, formed by detachments made from 
the Hessians of his corps, the brigade of Rahl, and the regi- 
ment of Waldeckers. The second attack was to be by two 
battalions of light infantry and two battalions of guards, un- 
der Brigadier-general Mathew, who was to cross Harlem 
River in flat-boats, under cover of the redoubts above men- 
tioned, and to land on the right of the fort. This attack was 
to be supported by the first and second grenadiers and a regi- 
ment of light infantry under command of Lord Cornwallis. 
The third attack, intended as a feint to distract the attention 
of the Americans, was to be by Colonel Sterling, with the 
forty-second regiment, who was to drop down the Harlem 
River in bateaux, to the left of the American lines, facing 
New York. The fourth attack was to be on the south, by 
Lord Percy, with the English and Hessian troops under his 
command, on the right flank of the American intrench- 

About noon, a heavy cannonade thundering along the 
rocky hills, and sharp volleys of musketry, proclaimed that 
the action was commenced. Knyphausen's division was 
pushing on from the north in two columns, as had been 
arranged. The right was led by Colonel Rahl, the left by 
himself. Rahl essayed to mount a steep, broken height, 

* Sir William Howe to Lord George Germaine. 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 12 

266 UJ/or^s of \]Jas\)iT)<^tOT) Irxjiqq^ 

called Cock Hill, which rises from Spyt den Duivel Creek, 
and was covered with woods. Knyphausen undertook a hill 
rising from the King's Bridge road, but soon found himself 
entangled in a woody defile, difficult to penetrate, and where 
his Hessians were exposed to the fire of the three-gun battery 
and Rawlings' riflemen. 

While this was going on at the north of the fort, General 
Mathew, with his light infantry and guards, crossed the 
Harlem River in the flat-boats, under cover of a heavy fire 
from the redoubts. 

He made good his landing, after being severely handled 
b}^ Baxter and his men, from behind rocks and trees, and 
the breastworks thrown up on the steep river bank. A short 
contest ensued. Baxter, while bravely encouraging his men, 
was killed by a British officer. His troops, overpowered by 
numbers, retreated to the fort. General Mathew now pushed 
on with his guards and fight infantry to cut off Cadwalader. 
That officer had gallantly defended the lines against the at • 
tack of Lord Percy, until informed that Colonel Sterling was 
dropping down Harlem River in bateaux to flank the fines 
and take him in the rear. He sent off a detachment to op- 
pose his landing. They did it manfully. About ninety of 
Sterfing's men were killed or wounded in their boats, but he 
persevered, landed, and forced his way up a steep height, 
which was weU defended, gained the summit, forced a re- 
doubt, and took nearly two hundred prisoners. Thus doubly 
assafied, Cadwalader was obliged to retreat to the fort. He 
was closely pursued by Percy with his English troops and 
Hessians, but turned repeatedly on his pursuers. Thus he 
fought his way to the fort, with the loss of several kified and 
more taken prisoners ; but marking his track by the number 
of Hessians slain. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ($toi) 267 

The defense on the north side of the fort was equally 
obstinate and unsuccessful. Rawlings, with his Maryland 
riflemen and the aid of the three-gun battery, had for some 
time kept the left column of Hessians and Waldeckers under 
Knyphausen at bay. At length Colonel Rahl, with the right 
column of the division, having forced his way directly up 
the north side of the steep hill at Spyt den Duivel Creek, 
came upon Rawlings' men, whose rifles, from frequent dis- 
charges, had become foul and almost useless; drove them 
from their strong post, and followed them until within a 
hundred yards of the fort, where he was joined by Knyp- 
hausen, who had slowly made his way through dense forests 
and over felled trees. Here they took post behind a large 
stone house, and sent in a flag, with a second summons to 

Washington, surrounded by several of his oflicers, had 
been an anxious spectator of the battle from the opposite 
side of the Hudson. Much of it was hidden from him by 
intervening hills and forest; but the roar of cannonry from 
the valley of Harlem River, the sharp and incessant reports 
of rifles, and the smoke rising above the tree-tops, told him 
of the spirit with which the assault was received at various 
points, and gave him for a time a hope that the defense 
might be successful. The action about the lines to the south 
lay open to him, and could be distinctly seen through a tele- 
scope; and nothing encouraged him more than the gallant 
style in which Cadwalader with an inferior force maintained 
his position. When he saw him, however, assailed in flank, 
the line broken, and his troops, overpowered by numbers, re- 
treating to the fort, he gave up the game as lost. The worst 
sight of all was to behold his men cut down and bayoneted 
by the Hessians while begging quarter. It is said so com- 

/i68 U/or^s of U/a8l?ip^tor> Injir>($ 

pletely to have overcome him that he wept "with the tender- 
ness of a child. ' ' 

Seeing the flag go into the fort from Knyphausen's divis- 
ion, and surmising it to be a summons to surrender, he wrote 
a note to Magaw, teUing him that if he could hold out until 
evening, and the place could not be maintained, he would 
endeavor to bring off the garrison in the night. Captain 
Gooch, of Boston, a brave and daring man, offered to be the 
bearer of the note. "He ran down to the river, jumped into 
a boat, pushed over the river, landed under the bank, ran 
up to the fort, and delivered the message — came out, ran 
and jumped over the broken ground, dodging the Hessians, 
some of whom struck at him with their pieces, and others 
attempted to thrust him with their bayonets; escaping 
through them, he got to his boat, and returned to Fort Lee.* 

"Washington's message arrived too late. "The fort was 
so crowded by the garrison and the troops which had re- 
treated into it that it was difficult to move about. The 
enemy, too, were in possession of the little redoubts around, 
and could have poured in showers of shells and ricochet balls 
that would have made dreadful slaughter." It was no 
longer possible for Magaw to get his troops to man the 
lines ; he was compelled, therefore, to yield himself and his 
garrison prisoners of war. The only terms granted them 
were that the men should retain their baggage and the 
officers their swords. 

The sight of the American flag hauled down and the 
British flag waving in its place told Washington of the sur- 
render. His instant care was for the safety of the upper 
country, now that the lower defenses of the Hudson were 

* Heath's Memoirs, p. 86. 

Cife of \3J^si)iT)<^tor) 269 

at an end. Before he knew anything about the terms of 
capitulation, he wrote to General Lee, informing him of the 
surrender, and calling his attention to the passes of the High- 
lands and those which lay east of the river; begging him to 
have such measures adopted for their defense as his judg- 
ment should suggest to be necessary. '*I do not mean," 
added he, ^Ho advise abandoning your present post, contrary 
to your own opinion ; but only to mention my own ideas of 
the importance of those passes, and that you cannot give too 
much attention to their security, by having works erected on 
the most advantageous places for that purpose." 

Lee, in reply, objected to removing from his actual en- 
campment at Northcastle. '*It would give us," said he, 
**the air of being frightened; it would expose a fine, fertile 
country to their ravages; and I must add that we are as 
secure as we could be in any position whatever." After 
stating that he should deposit his stores, etc., in a place fully 
as safe, and more central than Peekskill, he adds: **As to 
ourselves, light as we are, several retreats present them- 
selves. In short, if we keep a good lookout, we are in no 
danger; but I must entreat your Excellency to enjoin the 
officers posted at Fort Lee to give us the quickest intelli- 
gence if they observe any embarkation on the North River." 
As to the affair of Fort Washington, all that Lee observed 
on the subject was: ^*0h, general, why would you be over- 
persuaded by men of inferior judgment to your own? It was 
a cursed affair." 

Lee's allusion to men of inferior judgment was princi- 
pally aimed at Greene, whose influence with the commander- 
in-chief seems to have excited the jealousy of other officers 
of rank. So Colonel Tilghman, Washington's aid-de-camp, 
writes on the 17th, to Robert R. Livingston of New York: 

270 U/orl^s of U/asl^io^top Iruir><$ 

'^We were in a fair way of finishing the campaign with 
credit to ourselves, and, I think, to the disgrace of Mr. 
Howe; and, had the general followed his own opinion, the 
garrison would have been withdrawn immediately upon the 
enemy's falling down from Dobbs' Ferry. But General 
Greene was positive that our forces might at any time be 
drawn off under the guns of Fort Lee. Fatal experience 
has evinced the contrary." * 

Washington's own comments on the reduction of the 
fort, made in a letter to his brother Augustine, are worthy 
of special note. "This is a most unfortunate affair, and has 
given me great mortification ; as we have lost not only two 
thousand men t that were there, but a good deal of artillery 
and some of the best arms we had. And what adds to my 
mortification is that this post, after the last ships went past 
it, was held contrary to my wishes and opinion, as I con- 
ceived it to be a hazardous one : but it having been deter- 
mined on by a full council of general officers, and a resolu- 
tion of Congress having been received, strongly expressive 
of their desire that the channel of the river, which we had 
been laboring to stop for a long time at that place, might be 
obstructed, if possible; and knowing that this could not be 
done unless there were batteries to protect the obstructions, 
I did not care to give an absolute order for withdrawing the 
garrison till I could get round and see the situation of things ; 
and then it became too late, as the place was invested. Upon 
the passing of the last ships, I had given it as my opinion to 
General Greene, under whose care it was, that it would be 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 780. 

f The number of prisoners, as returned by Sir William 
Howe, was 2,818, of whom 2,607 were privates. They were 
marched off to New York at midnight. 

Cife of U/a8l7ir><$tor> 271 

best to evacuate the place ; but, as the order was discretion- 
ary, and his opinion different from mine, it was unhappily 
delayed too long; to my great grief." 

The correspondence of Washington with his brother is 
full of gloomy anticipations. ''In ten days from this date 
there will not be above two thousand men, if that number, 
of the fixed established regiments on this side of Hudson 
River to oppose Howe's whole army; and very little more 
on the other, to secure the eastern colonies and the impor- 
tant passes leading through the Highlands to Albany and 
the country about the lakes. In short, it is impossible for 
me, in the compass of a letter, to give you any idea of our 
situation, of my difficulties, and of the constant perplexities 
I meet with, derived from the unhappy poHcy of short enlist- 
ments, and delaying them too long. Last fall, or winter, 
before the army, which was then to be raised, was set about, 
I represented in clear and explicit terms the evils which 
would arise from short enlistments, the expense which must 
attend the raising an army every year, and the futility of 
such an army when raised ; and if I had spoken with a pro- 
phetic spirit I could not have foretold the evils with more ac- 
curacy than I did. All the year since, I have been pressing 
Congress to delay no time in engaging men upon such terms 
as would insure success, telling them that the longer it was 
delaj^ed the more difficult it would prove. But the measure 
was not commenced until it was too late to be effected. . . . 
I am wearied almost to death with the retrograde motion of 
things ; and I solemnly protest that a pecuniary reward of 
twenty thousand pounds a year would not induce me to un- 
dergo what I do, and, after all, perhaps to lose my character; 
as it is impossible, under such a variety of distressing circum- 
stances, to conduct matters agreeably to public expectation." 

27Ji U/orKs of U/asJ^ip^toi) iruir>^ 


The Enemy cross the Hudson — Retreat of the Garrison from Fort 
Lee — The Crossing of the Hackensack — Lee ordered to move to 
the West Side of the River — Reed's Letter to him — Second move 
of the Army — Beyond the Passaic — Assistance sought from va- 
rious Quarters — Correspondence and Schemes of Lee — Heath 
stanch to his Instructions — Anxiety of George Clinton for the 
Safety of the Hudson — Critical Situation of the Army — Dis- 
paraging Correspondence between Lee and Reed — Washington 
retreats across the Raritan — Arrives at Trenton — Removes his 
Baggage across the Delaware — Dismay and Despondency of the 
Country — Proclamation of Lord Howe — Exultation of the En- 
emy — Washington's Resolve in case of Extremity 

With the capture of Fort Washington, the project of ob- 
structing the navigation of the Hudson at that point was at 
an end. Fort Lee, consequently, became useless, and Wash- 
ington ordered all the ammunition and stores to be removed, 
preparatory to its abandonment. This was effected with the 
whole of the ammunition and a part of the stores, and every 
exertion was making to hurry off the remainder, when, early 
in the morning of the 20th, intelligence was brought that the 
enemy, with two hundred boats, had crossed the river and 
landed a few miles above. General Greene immediately or- 
dered the garrison under arms, sent out troops to hold the 
enemy in check, and sent off an express to Washington, at 

The enemy had crossed the Hudson, on a very rainy 
night, in two divisions, one diagonally upward from King's 
Bridge, landing on the west side, about eight o'clock; the 
other marched up the east bank three or four miles, and then 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^tor? 273 

crossed to the opposite shore. The whole corps, six thousand 
strong, and under the command of Lord CornwalHs, were 
landed, with their cannon, by ten o'clock, at a place called 
Closter Dock, five or six miles above Fort Lee, and under 
that line of lofty and perpendicular cliffs known as the Pali- 
sades. *'The seamen," says Sir William Howe, '* distin- 
guished themselves remarkably on this occasion, by their 
readiness to drag their cannon up a very narrow road, for 
nearly half a mile ; to the top of a precipice which bounds 
the shore for some miles on the west side." * 

Washington arrived at the fort in three-quarters of an 
hour. Being told that the enemy were extending themselves 
across the country, he at once saw that they intended to 
form a line from the Hudson to the Hackensack, and hem 
the whole garrison in between the two rivers. Nothing 
would save it but a prompt retreat to secure the bridge over 
the Hackensack. No time was to be lost. The troops sent 
out to check the enemy were recalled. The retreat com- 
menced in all haste. There was a want of horses and 
wagons; a great quantity of baggage, stores and provisions, 
therefore, was abandoned. So was all the artillery, except- 
ing two twelve-pounders : even the tents were left standing, 
and camp-kettles on the fire. With all their speed they did 
not reach the Hackensack River before the vanguard of the 
enemy was close upon them. Expecting a brush, the greater 
part hurried over the bridge, others crossed at the ferry, and 
some higher up. The enemy, however, did not dispute the 

* Some writers have stated that Cornwallis crossed on 
the 18th. They have been misled by a letter of Sir William 
Howe, which gives that date. Lord Howe, in a letter to the 
Secretary of the Admiralty, gives the date we have stated 
(the 20th), which is the true one. 

274 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir)^top Iruii)^ 

passage of the river ; but Cornwallis stated in his dispatches 
that, had not the Americans been apprised of his approach, 
he would have surrounded them at the fort. Some of his 
troops that night occupied the tents the}^ had abandoned. 

From Hackensack, Colonel Grayson, one of Washing- 
ton's aides-de-camp, wrote instantly, by his orders, to Gen- 
eral Lee ; informing him that the enemy had crossed into 
the Jerseys, and, as was reported, in great numbers. "His 
Excellency," adds Grayson, "thinks it would be advisable 
in you to remove the troops under your command on this 
side of the North River, and there wait for further com- 

Washington himself wrote to Lee on the following day 
(Nov. 21st). "I am of opinion," said he, "and the gentle- 
men about me concur in it, that the public interest requires 
your coming over to this side of the Hudson with the Con- 
tinental troops. . . . The enemy is evidently changing the 
seat of war to this side of the North River, and the inhabit- 
ants of this country will expect the Continental army to give 
them what support they can ; and, failing in that, they will 
cease to depend upon, or support a force from which no pro- 
tection is derived. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance 
that at least an appearance of force should be made to keep 
this province in connection with the others." 

In this moment of hurry and agitation, Colonel Reed, 
also, Washington's fidus Achates^ wrote to Lee, but in a 
tone and spirit that may surprise the reader, knowing the 
devotion he had hitherto manifested for the commander-in- 
chief. After expressing the common wish that Lee should 
be at the principal scene of action, he adds: "I do not mean 
to flatter or praise you, at the expense of any other; but I do 
think that it is entirely owing to you that this army and the 

Cife of U/a8l?ii7<$top ^75 

liberties of America, so far as they are dependent on it, are 
not entirely cut off. You have decision, a quality often 
wanting in minds otherwise valuable, and I ascribe to this 
our escape from York Island, King's Bridge and the Plains; 
and I have no doubt, had you been here, the garrison of 
Mount Washington would now have composed a part of this 
army ; and from all these circumstances, I confess, I do ar- 
dently wish to see you removed from a place where there 
will be so little call for your judgment and experience, to the 
place where they are likely to be so necessary. Nor am I 
singular in my opinion; every gentleman of the family, the 
officers and soldiers generally, have a confidence in you. 
The enemy constantly inquire where you are, and seem to 
be less confident when you are present." 

Then alluding to the late affair at Fort Washington, he 
continues: ** General Washington's own judgment, seconded 
by representations from us, would, I believe, have saved the 
men and their arms; but, unluckily. General Greene's judg- 
ment was contrary. This kept the general's mind in a state 
of suspense till the stroke was struck. Oh, general! An 
indecisive mind is one of the greatest misfortunes that can 
befall an army ; how often have I lamented it this campaign. 
All circumstances considered, we are in a very awful and 
alarming situation; one that requires the utmost wisdom 
and firmness of mind. As soon as the season will admit, I 
think yourself and some others should go to Congress and 
form the plan of the new army. ... I must conclude, 
with my clear and explicit opinion, that your presence is of 
the last importance." * 

Well might Washington apprehend that his character 

* Memoirs of Reed, i. 255. 

5i76 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir>^too Iruir)^ 

and conduct, in the perplexities in which he was placed, 
would be liable to be misunderstood by the public, when the 
friend of his bosom could so misjudge him. 

Reed had evidently been dazzled by the daring spirit and 
unscrupulous policy of Lee, who in carrying out his measures 
heeded but little the counsels of others, or even the orders of 
government ; Washington's respect for both, and the caution 
with which he hesitated in adopting measures in opposition 
to them, was stamped by the bold soldier and his admirers 
as indecision. 

At Hackensack the army did not exceed three thousand 
men, and they were dispirited by ill success and the loss of 
tents and baggage. They were without intrenching tools, 
in a flat country, where there were no natural fastnesses, 
Washington resolved, therefore, to avoid any attack from 
the enemy, though, by so doing, he must leave a fine and 
fertile region open to their ravages ; or a plentiful storehouse 
from which they would draw voluntary supplies. A second 
move was necessary, again to avoid the danger of being in- 
closed between two rivers. Leaving three regiments, there^ 
fore, to guard the passes of the Hackensack, and serve as 
covering parties, he again decamped, and threw himself on 
the west bank of the Passaic, in the neighborhood of Newark. 

His army, small as it was, would soon be less. The term 
of enlistment of those under General Mercer, from the flying 
camp, was nearly expired ; and it was not probable that, dis- 
heartened as they were by defeats and losses, exposed to in- 
clement weather, and unaccustomed to military hardships, 
they would longer forego the comforts of their homes, to 
drag out the residue of a ruinous campaign. 

In addition, too, to the superiority of the force that was 
following him, the rivers gave the enemy facilities, by means 

Cife of U/ast^ip^toi) 277 

of their shipping, to throw troops in his rear. In this ex- 
tremity he cast about in every direction for assistance. 
Colonel Reed, on whom he relied as on a second self, was 
dispatched to Burlington with a letter to Governor William 
Livingston, describing his hazardous situation, and entreat- 
ing him to call out a portion of the New Jersey militia; and 
General Mifflin was sent to Philadelphia to implore imme 
diate aid from Congress and the local authorities. 

His main reliance for prompt assistance, however, was 
upon Lee. On the 24th came a letter from that general, 
addressed to Colonel Reed. Washington opened it, as he 
was accustomed to do, in the absence of that officer, with 
letters addressed to him on the business of the army. Lee 
was at his old encampment at Northcastle. He had no 
means, he said, of crossing at Dobbs' Ferry, and the round 
by King's Ferry would be so great that he could not get 
there in time to answer any purpose. **I have, therefore," 
added he, '* ordered General Heath, who is close to the only 
ferry which can be passed, to detach two thousand men to 
apprise his Excellency and await his further orders ; a mode 
which I flatter myself will answer better what I conceive to 
be the spirit of the orders than should I move the corps from 
hence. Withdrawing our troops from hence would be at- 
tended with some very serious consequences, which at pres- 
ent would be tedious to enumerate; as to myself," adds he, 
*'I hope to set out to-morrow." 

A letter of the same date (Nov 23d), from Lee to James 
Bowdoin, president of the Massachusetts council, may throw 
some light on his motives for delaying to obey the orders of 
the commander-in-chief. "Before the unfortunate affair of 
Fort Washington," writes he, "it was my opinion that the 
two armies— that on the east and that on the west side of 

278 U/orKs of U/a8l?i9($top IruiQ($ 

the North River — must rest each on its own bottom ; that 
the idea of detaching and re-enforcing from one side to the 
other, on every motion of the enemy, was chimerical ; but to 
harbor such a thought in our present circumstances is abso- 
lute insanity. In this invasion, should the enemy alter the 
present direction of their operations and attempt to open the 
passage of the Highlands, or enter New England, I should 
never entertain the thought of being succored by the western 
army. I know it is impossible. We must, therefore, de- 
pend upon ourselves. To Connecticut and Massachusetts I 
shall look for assistance. ... I hope the cursed job of Fort 
Washington will occasion no dejection : the place itself was 
of no value. For my own part, I am persuaded that if we 
only act with common sense, spirit, and decision, the day 
must be our own." 

In another letter to Bowdoin, dated on the following day, 
and inclosing an extract from Washington's letter of Novem- 
ber 21st, he writes: "Indecision bids fair for tumbling down 
the goodly fabric of American freedom, and, with it, the 
rights of mankind. 'Twas indecision of Congress prevented 
our having a noble army, and on an excellent footing. 'Twas 
indecision in our military councils which cost us the garrison 
of Fort Washington, the consequence of which must be fatal, 
unless remedied in time by a contrary spirit. Inclosed I send 
you an extract of a letter from the general, on which you 
will make your comments; and I have no doubt you will 
concur with me in the necessity of raising immediately an 
army to save us from perdition. Affairs appear in so impor- 
tant a crisis that I think the resolves of the Congress must 
no longer too nicely weigh with us. We must save the com- 
munity, in spite of the ordinances of the legislature. There 
are times when we must commit treason against the laws of 

Cffe of U/asl7iQ<;Jtor7 279 

the State for the salvation of the State. The present crisis 
demands this brave, virtuous kind of treason." He urges 
President Bowdoin, therefore, to waive all formalities, and 
not only complete the regiments prescribed to the province, 
but to add four companies to each regiment. '*We must not 
only have a force sufficient to cover your province and all 
these fertile districts from the insults and irruptions of the 
tyrant's troops, but sufficient to drive 'em out of all their 
quarters in the Jerseys, or all is lost. ... In the mean- 
time, send up a formidable body of militia to supply the 
place of the Continental troops which I am ordered to con- 
vey over the river. Let your people be well supplied with 
blankets and warm clothes, as I am determined, by the help 
of God, to unnest 'em, even in the dead of winter." * 

It is evident Lee considered Washington's star to be on 
the decline, and his own in the ascendant. The ** affair 
of Fort Washington" and the "indecision of the commander- 
in-chief" were apparently his watchwords. 

On the following day (24th) he writes to Washington 
from Northcastle, on the subject of removing troops across 
the Hudson. "I have received your orders, and shall en- 
deavor to put them in execution, but question whether I shall 
be able to carry with me any considerable number; not so 
much from want of zeal in the men as from their wretched 
condition with respect to shoes, stockings, and blankets, 
which the present bad weather renders more intolerable. I 
sent Heath orders to transport two thousand men across the 
river, apprise the general, and wait for further orders; but 
that great man (as I might have expected) intrenched him- 
self within the letter of his instructions and refused to part 

* Am. Archiv^es, 5th Series, iii. 811. 

280 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 

with a single file, though I undertook to replace them with 
a part of my own." He concludes by showing that, so far 
from hurrying to the support of his commander-in-chief, he 
was meditating a side blow of his own devising. *'I shall 
march this day with Glover's brigade; but have just received 
intelligence that Rogers' corps, a part of the light-horse, and 
another brigade lie in so exposed a situation as to present 
us the fairest opportunity of carrying them off. If we suc- 
ceed, it will have a great effect, and amply compensate for 
two days' delay." 

Scarce had Lee sent this letter when he received one 
from Washington, informing him that he had mistaken his 
views in regard to the troops required to cross the Hudson; 
it was his (Lee's) division that he wanted to have over. The 
force under Heath must remain to guard the posts and passes 
through the Highlands, the importance of which was so 
infinitely great that there should not be the least possible 
risk of losing them. In the same letter Washington, who 
presumed Lee was by this time at Peekskill, advised him to 
take every precaution to come by a safe route, and by all 
means to keep between the enemy and the mountains, as 
he understood they were taking measures to intercept his 

Lee's reply was still from Northcastle. He explained 
that his idea of detaching troops from Heath's division was 
merely for expedition's sake, intending to replace them from 
his own. The want of carriages and other causes had de- 
layed him. From the force of the enemy remaining in West- 
chester Cour^ty, he did not conceive the number of them in 
the Jerseys to be near so great as Washington was taught 
to believe. He had been making a sweep of the country to 
clear it of the tories. Part of his army had now moved on. 

Cife of WBs\)iT)<^tOT) 281 

and he would set out on the following day. He concluded 
with the assurance, '*I shall take care to obey your Excel- 
lency's orders in regard to my march as exactly as possible." 

On the same day he vents his spleen in a tart letter to 
Heath. ''I perceive," writes he, *'that you have formed 
an idea that, should General Washington remove to the 
Straits of Magellan, the instructions he left with you, upon 
a particular occasion, have, to all intents and purposes, in- 
vested you with a command separate from and independent 
of any other superiors. . . . That General Heath is by no 
means to consider himself obliged to obey the second in com- 
mand." He concluded by informing him that, as the 
commander-in-chief was now separated from them, he (Lee) 
commanded, of course, on this side of the water, and for 
the future would and must be obeyed. 

Before receiving this letter Heath, doubtful whether 
Washington might not be pressed, and desirous of having 
his troops across the Hudson, had sent off an express to him 
for explicit instructions on that point, and, in the meantime, 
had kept them ready for a move. 

General George Clinton, who was with him, and had 
the safety of the Hudson at heart, was in an agony of solici- 
tude. *'We have been under marching orders these three 
days past," writes he, '*and only await the directions of 
General Washington. Should they be to move, all's over 
with the river this season, and, I fear, forever. General 
Lee, four or five days ago, had orders to move with his 
division across the river. Instead of so doing, he ordered 
General Heath to march his men through, and he would 
replace them with so many of his. General Heath could 
not do this consistent with his instructions, but put his men 
under marching orders to wait his Excellency's orders." 

282 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^tor) IruiQ<? 

Honest George Clinton was still perplexed and annoyed by 
these marchings and countermarchings ; and especially with 
these incessant retreats. ''A strange way of cooking busi- 
ness !" writes he. '* We have no particular accounts yet from 
headquarters, hut I am apt to believe retreating is yet 

The return of the express sent to Washington relieved 
CHnton's anxiety about the Highlands; reiterating the orig- 
inal order that the division under Heath should remain for 
the protection of the passes. 

• Washington was still at Newark when, on the 27th, he 
received Lee's letter of the 24th, speaking of his scheme of 
capturing Rogers the partisan. Under other circumstances 
it might have been a sufficient excuse for his delay, but 
higher interests were at stake ; he immediately wrote to Lee 
as follows: '*My former letters were so full and exphcit as 
to the necessity of your marching as early as possible that 
it is unnecessary to add more on that head. I confess I 
expected you would have been sooner in motion. The force 
here, when joined by yours, will not be adequate to any 
great opposition ; at present it is weak, and it has been more 
owing to the badness of the weather that the enemy's prog- 
ress has been checked than any resistance we could make. 
They are now pushing this way — part of 'em have passed 
the Passaic. Their plan is not entirely unfolded, but I shall 
not be surprised if Philadelphia should turn out the object 
of their movement." 

The situation of the little army was daily becoming more 
peiilous. In a council of war, several of the members urged 
a move to Morristown, to form a junction with the troops 
expected from the Northern army« Washington, however, 
still cherished the idea of making a stand at Brunswick on 

Cife of lI/a8l?ir)(^tor> 283 

the Raritan, or, at all events, of disputing the passage of 
the Delaware ; and in this intrepid resolution he was warmly 
seconded by Greene. 

Breaking up his camp once more, therefore, he continued 
his retreat toward New Brunswick; but so close was 
Cornwallis upon him that his advance entered one end of 
Newark just as the American rear-guard had left the 

From New Brunswick, Washington wrote on the 29th to 
William Livingston, governor of the Jerseys, requesting him 
to have all boats and river craft for seventy miles along the 
Delaware removed to the western bank out of the reach of 
the enemy, and put under guard. He was disappointed in 
his hope of making a stand on the banks of the Raritan. 
All the force he could muster at Brunswick, including the 
New Jersey militia, did not exceed four thousand men. Col- 
onel Reed had failed in procuring aid from the New Jersey 
Legislature. That body, shifted from place to place, was on 
the eve of dissolution. The term of the Maryland and New 
Jersey troops in the flying camp had expired. General 
Mercer endeavored to retain them, representing the disgrace 
of turning their back upon the cause when the enemy was at 
hand; his remonstrances were fruitless. As to the Penn- 
sylvania levies, they deserted in such numbers that guards 
were stationed on the roads and ferries to intercept them. 

At this moment of care and perplexity a letter, forwarded 
by express, arrived at headquarters. It was from General 
Lee, dated from his camp at Northcastle, to Colonel Reed, 
and was in reply to the letter written by that officer from 
Hackensack on the 21st, which we have already laid before 
the reader. Supposing that it related to official business, 
Washington opened it, and read as follows : 

284 U/or^s of U/a8l?ii7^toi) Iruli>^ 

**My DEAR Heed — I received your most obliging, flatter- 
ing letter; lament with you that fatal indecision of mind, 
which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupid- 
ity, or even want of personal courage. Accident may put 
a decisive blunderer in the right; but eternal defeat and 
miscarriage must attend the man of the best parts, if cursed 
with indecision. The general recommends in so pressing 
a manner as almost to amount to an order, to bring over the 
Continental troops under my command ; which recommenda- 
tion, or order, throws me into the greatest dilemma from 
several considerations. " After stating these considerations, 
he adds: '*My reason for not having marched already is, 
that we have just received intelligence that Rogers' corps, 
the light-horse, part of the Highlanders and another brigade, 
lie in so exposed a situation as to give the fairest opportunity 
of being carried. I should have attempted it last night, but 
the rain was too violent, and when our pieces are wet you 
know our troops are hors du comhat. This night I hope 
will be better. ... I only wait myself for this business of 
Rogers and company being over. I shall then fly to you; 
for, to confess a truth, I really think our chief will do better 
with me than without me." 

A glance over this letter sufficed to show Washington 
that, at this dark moment, when he most needed support and 
sympathy, his character and military conduct were the sub- 
ject of disparaging comments between the friend in whom 
he had so implicitly confided, and a sarcastic and apparently 
self-constituted rival. Whatever may have been his feeling's 
of wounded pride and outraged friendship, he restrained 
them, and inclosed the letter to Reed, with the following 
chilling note : 

Cife of U/a8l7ip<$tor> 285 

*^Dbar Sir — The inclosed was put into my hands by an 
express from White Plains. Having no idea of its being a 
private letter, much less suspecting the tendency of the cor- 
respondence, I opened it ; as I have done all other letters to 
you from the same place and Peekskill, upon the business 
of your office, as I conceived and found them to be. This, 
as it is the truth, must be my excuse for seeing the contents 
of a letter which neither inclination nor intention would have 
prompted me to," etc. 

The very calmness and coldness of this note must have 
had a greater effect upon Reed than could have been pro- 
duced by the most vehement reproaches. In subsequent 
communications he endeavored to explain away the offensive 
paragraphs in Lee's letter, declaring there was nothing in 
his own inconsistent with the respect and affection he had 
ever borne for Washington's person and character. 

Fortunately for Reed, Washington never saw that letter. 
There were passages in it beyond the reach of softening or 
explanation. As it was, the purport of it, as reflected in 
Lee's reply, had given him a sufficient shock. His mag- 
nanimous nature, however, was incapable of harboring long 
resentments; especially in matters relating solely to himself. 
His personal respect for Colonel Reed continued; he invari- 
ably manifested a high sense of his merits, and consulted 
him, as before, on military affairs; but his hitherto affec- 
tionate confidence in him, as a sympathizing friend, had 
received an incurable wound. His letters, before so fre- 
quent, and such perfect outpourings of heart and mind, 
became few and far between, and confined to matters ot 

It must have been consoling to Washington, at this mo- 

^86 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^tor) \r\jiT)q 

ment of bitterness, to receive the following letter (dated Nov. 
27th) from William Livingston, the intelhgent and patriotic 
governor of New Jersey. It showed that while many mis- 
judged him, and friends seemed falling from his side, others 
appreciated him truly, and the ordeal he was undergoing. 

''I can easily form some idea of the difficulties under 
which you labor," writes Livingston, '* particularly of one 
for which the public can make no allowance, because your 
prudence and fidehty to the cause will not suffer you to 
reveal it to the public ; an instance of magnanimity superior, 
perhaps, to any that can be shown in battle. But depend 
upon it, my dear sir, the impartial world will do you ample 
justice before long. May God support you under the fatigue, 
both of body and mind, to which you must be constantly 
exposed. ' ' * 

Washington lingered at Brunswick until the 1st of De- 
cember, in the vain hope of being re-enforced. The enemy, 
in the meantime, advanced through the country, impressing 
wagons and horses, and collecting cattle and sheep, as if for 
a distant march. At length their vanguard appeared on the 
opposite side of the Raritan. Washington immediately broke 
down the end of the bridge next the village, and after night- 

* We cannot dismiss this painful incident in Washing- 
ton's life without a prospective note on the subject. Reed 
was really of too generous and intelligent a nature not to be 
aware of the immense value of the friendship he had put at 
hazard. He grieved over his mistake, especially as after 
events showed more and more the majestic greatness of 
Washington's character. A letter in the following year, 
in which he sought to convince Washington of his sincere 
and devoted attachment, is really touching in its appeals. 
We are happy to add that it appears to have been successful, 
and to have restored, in a great measure, their relations of 
friendly confidence. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ<$top 287 

fall resumed his retreat. In the meantime, as the river was 
fordable, Captain Alexander Hamilton planted his field-pieces 
on high, commanding ground, and opened a spirited fire to 
check any attempt of the enemy to cross. 

At Princeton, Washington left twelve hundred men in 
two brigades, under Lord Stirling and General Adam 
Stephen, to cover the country and watch the motions of the 
enemy. Stephen was the same officer that had served as 
a colonel under Washington in the French war, as second 
in command of the Virginia troops, and had charge of Fort 
Cumberland. In consideration of his courage and military 
capacity, he had, in 1764, been intrusted with the protection 
of the frontier. He had recently brought a detachment of 
Virginia troops to the army, and received from Congress, 
in September, the commission of brigadier-general. 

The harassed army reached Trenton on the 2d of Decem- 
ber. Washington immediately proceeded to remove his bag- 
gage and stores across the Delaware. In his letters from 
this place to the President of Congress, he gives his reasons 
for his continued retreat. ''Nothing but necessity obliged 
me to retire before the enemy and leave so much of the 
Jerseys unprotected. Sorry am I to observe that the fre- 
quent calls upon the militia of this State, the want of exer- 
tion in the principal gentlemen of the country, and a fatal 
supineness and insensibility of danger, till it is too late to 
prevent an evil that was not only foreseen, but foretold, 
have been the causes of our late disgraces. 

"If the militia of this State had stepped forth in season 
(and timely notice they had), we might have prevented the 
enemy's crossing the Hackensack. We might, with equal 
possibility of success, have made a stand at Brunswick on the 
Raritan. But as both these rivers were fordable in a variety 

288 U/orl^s of U/a8l?io^toi> Iruir>^ 

of places, being knee deep only, it required many men to 
guard the passes, and these we had not." 

In excuse for the people of New Jersey, it may be ob- 
served that they inhabited an open, agricultural country, 
where the sound of war had never been heard. Many of 
them looked upon the Revolution as rebellion ; others thought 
it a ruined enterprise; the armies engaged in it had been 
defeated and broken up. They beheld the commander-in- 
chief retreating through their country with a handful of 
men, weary, wayworn, dispirited; without tents, without 
clothing, many of them barefooted, exposed to wintry 
weather, and driven from post to post by a well-clad, well- 
fed, triumphant force, tricked out in all the glittering bravery 
of war. Could it be wondered at that peaceful husbandmen, 
seeing their quiet fields thus suddenly overrun by adverse 
hosts, and their very hearthstones threatened with outrage, 
should, instead of flying to arms, seek for the safety of their 
wives and little ones, and the protection of their humble 
means, from the desolation which too often marks the course 
even of friendly armies? 

Lord Howe and his brother sought to profit by this 
dismay and despondency. A proclamation, dated 30th of 
November, commanded all persons in arms against his 
majesty's government to disband and return home, and all 
Congresses to desist from treasonable acts: offering a free 
pardon to all who should comply within fifty days. 

Many who had been prominent in the cause hastened to 
take advantage of this proclamation. Those who had most 
property to lose were the first to submit. The middle ranks 
remained generally steadfast in this time of trial. * 

^ Gordon's Hist. Am. War, ii. 129. 

Cife of U/a8l?ir><$toi> 289 

The following extract of a letter from a field-officer in 
New York, dated December 2d, to his friend in London, 
gives the British view of affairs: **The rebels continue flying 
before our army. Lord Cornwallis took the fort opposite 
Brunswick, plunged into Raritan River and seized the town. 
Mr. Washington had orders from the Congress to rally and 
defend that post, but he sent them word he could not. He 
was seen retreating with two brigades to Trenton, where 
they talk of resisting ; but such a panic has seized the rebels 
that no part of the Jerseys will hold them, and I doubt 
whether Philadelphia itself will stop their career. The Con- 
gress have lost their authority. . . . They are in such con- 
sternation that they know not what to do. The two Adamses 
are in New England ; Franklin gone to France ; Lynch has 
lost his senses ; Rutledge has gone home disgusted ; Dana is 
persecuting at Albany, and Jay's in the country playing as 
bad a part ; so that the fools have lost the assistance of the 
knaves. However, should they embrace the inclosed proc- 
lamation, they may yet escape the halter. . . . Honest 
David Mathew, the mayor, has made his escape from them, 
and arrived here this day." * 

In this dark day of peril to the cause and to himself, 
Washington remained firm and undaunted. In casting 
about for some stronghold, where he might make a desperate 
stand for the liberties of his country, his thoughts reverted 
to the mountain regions of his early campaigns. General 
Mercer was at hand, who had shared his perils among these 
mountains, and his presence may have contributed to bring 
them to his mind. *'What think you," said Washington; 
**if we should retreat to the back parts of Pennsylvania, 
would the Pennsylvanians support us?" 

* Am. Archives, 5tli Series, iii. 1037. 
Vol. XIIL— ***13 

290 U/orKs of U/asl^io^toi) Iruip^ 

**If the lower counties give up, the back counties will do 
the same," was the discouraging reply. 

''We must then retire to Augusta County, in Virginia," 
said Washington. ''Numbers will repair to us for safety, 
and we will try a predatory war. If overpowered, we must 
cross the Alleghenies. " 

Such was the indomitable spirit, rising under difficulties, 
and buoyant in the darkest moment, that kept our tempest- 
tossed cause from foundering. 


Lee at Peekskill — Stanch adherence of Heath to Orders — Lee crosses 
the Hudson — Washington at Trenton — Lee at the Heels of the 
Enemy— His Speculations on Military Greatness — Forced March 
of Cornwallis — Washington crosses the Delaware — Putnam in 
Command at Philadelphia — Baffling Letters of Lee — Hopes to 
reconquer the Jerseys — Gates on the March — Lee quartered at 
Baskingridge — Surprised and Captured — Speculations on his 

Notwithstanding the repeated and pressing orders and 
entreaties of the commander-in-chief, Lee did not reach 
Peekskill until the 30th of November. In a letter of that 
date to Washington, who had complained of his delay, he 
simply alleges difficulties, which he would explain ivJien 
both had leisure. His scheme to entrap Rogers, the rene= 
gade, had failed ; the old Indian hunter had been too much 
on the alert; he boasted, however, to have rendered more 
service by his delay than he would have done had he moved 
sooner. His forces were thereby augmented, so that he 
expected to enter the Jerseys with four thousand firm and 
"vrilling men, who would make a very important diversion. 

Cife of lI/a8l7ir><^tor? 291 

**The day after to-morrow," added he, "we shall pass 
the river, when I should be glad to receive your instructions ; 
but I could wish you would bind me as little as possible; 
not from any opinion, I do assure you, of my own parts, 
but from a persuasion that detached generals cannot have 
too great latitude unless they are very incompetent indeed." 

Lee had calculated upon meeting no further difficulty in 
obtaining men from Heath. He rode to that general's 
quarters in the evening, and was invited by him to alight 
and take tea. On entering the house Lee took Heath aside, 
and alluding to his former refusal to supply troops as being 
inconsistent with the orders of the commander-in-chief, '*in 
point of Imv,^^ said he, **you are right, but in point of policy 
I think you are wrong. I am going into the Jerseys for the 
salvation of America ; I wish to take with me a larger force 
than I now have, and request you to order two thousand of 
your men to march with me." 

Heath answered that he could not spare that number. 
He was then asked to order one thousand; to which he 
replied that the business might as well be brought to a point 
at once — that not a single man should march from the post 
by his order. **Then," exclaimed Lee, "I will order them 
myself." '*That makes a wide difference," rejoined Heath. 
**You are my senior, but I have received positive written 
instructions from him who is superior to us both, and I will 
not myself break those orders." In proof of his words, 
Heath produced the recent letter received from Washington, 
repeating his former orders that no troops should be removed 
from that post. Lee glanced over the letter. **The com- 
mander-in-chief is now at a distance, and does not know 
what is necessary here so well as I do." He asked a sight 
of the return book of the division. It was brought by Major 

292 U/orl^s of U/asI^iQ^toi) Iruir?*? 

Huntington, the deputy adjutant-general. Lee ran his eye 
over it, and chose two regiments. '^You will order them 
to march early to-morrow morning to join me," said he to 
the major. Heath, ruffling with the pride of military law, 
turned to the major with an air of authority. '* Issue such 
orders at your peril!" exclaimed he: then addressing Lee, 
*'Sir," said he, '*if you come to this post and mean to issue 
orders here which will break the positive ones I have re- 
ceived, 1 pray you do it completely yourself, and through 
your own deputy adjutant-general, who is present, and not 
draw me or any of my family in as partners in the guilt." 

"It is right," said Lee; *^ Colonel Scammel, do you issue 
the order." It was done accordingly ; but Heath's punctili- 
ous scruples were not yet satisfied. '*I have one more re- 
quest to make, sir," said he to Lee, ''and that is, that you 
will be pleased to give me a certificate that you exercise 
command at this post, and order from it these regiments." 

Lee hesitated to comply, but George Clinton, who was 
present, told him he could not refuse a request so reasonable. 
He accordingly wrote, "For the satisfaction of General 
Heath, and at his request, I do certify that I am command- 
ing officer, at this present writing, in this post, and that I 
have, in that capacity, ordered Prescott's and Wyllis's regi- 
ments to march. " 

Heath's military punctilio was satisfied, and he smoothed 
his ruffled plumes. Early the next morning the regiments 
moved from their cantonments ready to embark, when Lee 
again rode up to his door. ''Upon further consideration," 
said he, "I have concluded not to take the two regiments 
with me — you may order them to return to their former 

"This conduct of General Lee," adds Heath in his Me- 

Cife of U/a8l?ir><$tor7 293 

moirs, "appeared not a little extraordinary, and one is al- 
most at a loss to account for it. He had been a soldier from 
his youth, and had a perfect knowledge of service in all its 
branches, but was rather obstinate in his temper, and could 
scarcely brook being crossed in anything in the line of his 
profession." * 

It was not until the 4th of December that Lee crossed the 
Hudson, and began a laggard march, though aware of the 
imminent peril of Washington and his army — how different 
from the celerity of his movements in his expedition to the 

In the meantime, Washington, who was at Trenton, had 
profited by a delay of the enemy at Brunswick, and removed 
most of the stores and baggage of the army across the Dela- 
ware ; and, being re-enforced by fifteen hundred of the Penn- 
sylvania militia, procured by Mifflin, prepared to face about 
and march back to Princeton with such of his troops as were 
fit for service, there to be governed by circumstances and 
the movements of General Lee. Accordingly, on the 5th of 
December, he sent about twelve hundred men in the advance 
to re-enforce Lord Stirling, and the next day set off himself 
with the residue. 

**The general has gone forward to Princeton," writes 
Colonel Reed, ** where there are about three thousand men, 
with which, I fear, he will not be able to make any stand." f 

While on the march, Washington received a letter from 
Greene, who was at Princeton, informing him of a report 
that Lee was ''at the heels of the enemy." "I should 
think," adds Greene, '*he had better keep on the flanks than 

* The above scene is given almost literally from General 
Heath's Memoirs. 

t Reed to the President of Congress. 

Ji94: U/orl^s of \lfas\)lT)(^tOT) Iruip^ 

the rear, unless it were possible to concert an attack at the 
same instant of time in front and rear. ... I think Gen- 
eral Lee must be confined within the lines of some general 
plan, or else his operations will be independent of yours. 
His own troops. General St. Clair's, and the militia, must 
form a respectable army." 

Lee had no idea of conforming to a general plan ; he had 
an independent plan of his own, and was at that moment at 
Pompton, indulging speculations on military greatness, and 
the lamentable want of it in his American contemporaries. 
In a letter from that place to Governor Cooke of Rhode Isl- 
and he imparts his notions on the subject. ^'Theorj^ joined 
to practice, or a heaven-born genius, can alone constitute a 
general. As to the latter, God Almighty indulges the mod- 
ern world very rarely with the spectacle ; and I do not know, 
from what I have seen, that He has been more profuse of 
this ethereal spirit to the Americans than to other nations." 

"While Lee was thus loitering and speculating, Cornwal- 
lis, knowing how far he was in the rear, and how weak was 
the situation of Washington's army, and being himself 
strongly re-enforced, made a forced march from Bruns- 
wick and was within two miles of Princeton. Stirling, to 
avoid being surrounded, immediately set out with two bri- 
gades for Trenton. "Washington, too, receiving intelligence 
by express of these movements, hastened back to that place, 
and caused boats to be collected from all quarters, and the 
stores and troops transported across the Delaware. He him- 
self crossed with the rear-guard on Sunday morning, and 
took up his quarters about a mile from the river; causing 
the boats to be destroyed and troops to be posted opposite the 
fords. He was conscious, however, as he said, that with his 
small force he could make no great opposition, should the 

Cife of U/asl;^iQ($tor> 295 

enemy bring boats with them. Fortunately, they did not 
come thus provided. 

The rear-guard, says an American account, had barely 
crossed the river when Lord Cornwallis ''came marching 
down with all the pomp of war, in great expectation of get- 
ting boats and immediately pursuing." Not one was to be 
had there or elsewhere; for Washington had caused the 
boats, for an extent of seventy miles up and down the river, 
to be secured on the right bank. His lordship was effect- 
ually brought to a stand. He made some moves with two 
columns as if he would cross the Delaware above and beloWj 
either to push on to Philadelphia, or to entrap "Washington 
in the acute angle made by the bend of the river opposite 
Bordentown. An able disposition of American troops along 
the upper part of the river, and of a number of galleys be- 
low, discouraged any attempt of the kind. Cornwallis, 
therefore, gave up the pursuit, distributed the German 
troops in cantonments along the left bank of the river, and 
stationed his main force at Brunswick, trusting to be able 
before long to cross the Delaware on the ice. 

On the 8th, Washington wrote to the President of Con- 
gress: "There is not a moment's time to be lost in assem- 
bling such a force as can be collected, as the object of the 
enemy cannot now be doubted in the smallest degree. In- 
deed, I shall be out in my conjecture, for it is only conject- 
ure, if the late embarkation at New York is not for Dela- 
ware River, to co-operate with the army under General 
Howe, who, I am informed from good authority, is with the 
British troops, and his whole force upon this route. I have 
no certain intelligence of General Lee, although I have sent 
expresses to him, and lately a Colonel Humpton, to bring me 
some accurate accounts of his situation. I last night dis- 

^96 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir>^tor> Iruii)^ 

patched another gentleman to him (Major Hoops), desiring 
he would hasten his march to the Delaware, on which I 
would provide boats near a place called Alexandria, for the 
transportation of his troops. I cannot account for the slow- 
ness of his march." 

In further letters to Lee, Washington urged the peril of 
Philadelphia. **Do come on," writes he; ''your arrival may 
be fortunate, and, if it can be effected without delay, it may 
be the means of preserving a city whose loss must prove of 
the most fatal consequence to the cause of America." 

Putnam was now detached to take command of Phila- 
delphia and put it in a state of defense, and Greneral MiflBlia 
to have charge of the munitions of war deposited there. By 
their advice, Congress hastily adjourned on the 12th of De- 
cember, to meet again on the 30th, at Baltimore. 

Washington's whole force at this time was about five 
thousand five hundred men; one thousand of them Jersey 
militia, fifteen hundred militia from Philadelphia, and a bat» 
ta,lion of five hundred of the German yeomanry of Pennsyl- 
vania. Gates, however, he was informed, was coming on 
with seven regiments detached by Schuyler from the l^orth- 
em department ; re-enforced by these and the troops under 
Lee, he hoped to be able to attempt a stroke upon the ene- 
my's forces, which lay a good deal scattered, and, to all ap« 
pearances, in a state of securitj^. "A lucky blow in this 
quarter," writes he, ** would be fatal to them, and would 
most certainly raise the spirits of the people, which are quite 
sunk by our late misfortunes." * 

"While cheering himself with these hopes, and trusting 
to speedy aid from Lee, that wayward commander, though 

* Washington to Governor Trumbull, 14th December. 

Cife of \JJas\)'iT)(^tOT) 297 

nearly three weeks had elapsed since he had received Wash- 
ington's orders and entreaties to join him with all possible 
dispatch, was no further on his march than Morristown, in 
the Jerseys ; where, with militia recruits, his force was about 
four thousand men. In a letter written by him on the 8th 
of December to a committee of Congress, he says: "If I was 
not taught to think the army with General "Washington had 
been considerably re-enforced I should immediately join 
him ; but as I am assured he is very strong, I should imag- 
ine we can make a better impression by beating up and ha- 
rassing their detached parties in their rear, for which purpose 
a good post at Chatham seems the best calculated. It is a 
happy distance from Newark, Elizabethtown, Woodbridge 
and Boundbrook. "We shall, I expect, annoy, distract, and 
consequently weaken them in a desultory war." * 

On the same day he writes from Chatham, in reply to 
"Washington's letter by Major Hoops, just received: *'I am 
extremely shocked to hear that your force is so inadequate 
to the necessity of your situation, as I had been taught to 
think you had been considerably re-enforced. Your last let- 
ters, proposing a plan of surprises and forced marches, con- 
vinced me that there was no danger of your being obliged 
to pass the Delaware ; in consequence of which proposals I 
have put myself in a position the most convenient to co- oper- 
ate with you, by attacking their rear. I cannot persuade 
myself that Philadelphia is their object at present. ... It 
will be difficult, I am afraid, to join you ; but cannot I do 
you more service by attacking their rear?" 

This letter, sent by a light-horseman, received an instant 
reply from "Washington. "Philadelphia, beyond all ques- 

Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 1121. 

298 U/orKs of U/aslpip^toi) Iruirj^ 

tion, is the object of the enemy's movements, and nothing 
less than our utmost exertions will prevent General Howe 
from possessing it. The force I have is weak, and utterly 
incompetent to that end. I must, therefore, entreat you to 
push on with every possible succor you can bring." * 

On the 9th, Lee, who was at Chatham, received informa- 
tion from Heath that three of the regiments detached under 
Gates from the !N"orthern army had arrived from Albany at 
Peekskill. He instantly writes to him to forward them, 
without loss of time, to Morristown: ''I am in hopes," adds 
he, "to reconquer (if I may so express myself) the Jerseys. 
It was really in the hands of the enemy before my arrival." 

On the 11th, Lee writes to "Washington from Morristown, 
where he says his troops had been obliged to halt two days 
for want of shoes. He now talked of crossing the great 
Brunswick post road, and, by a forced night's march, mak- 
ing his way to the ferry above Burlington, where boats 
should be sent up from Philadelphia to receive him. 

*'I am much surprised," writes Washington in reply, 
"that you should be in any doubt respecting the road you 
should take, after the information you have received upon 
that head. A large number of boats was procured, and is 
still retained at Tinicum, under a strong guard, to facilitate 
your passage across the Delaware. I have so frequently 
mentioned our situation and the necessity of 3'our aid, that it 
is painful for me to add a word on the subject. . . . Con- 
gress have directed Philadelphia to be defended to the last 
extremity. The fatal consequences that must attend its loss 
are but too obvious to every one; your arrival may be the 
means of saving it." 

In detailing the close of General Lee's march, so extraor- 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 1138. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip($tor> 299 

dinary for its tardiness, we shall avail ourselves of the me- 
moir already cited of General Wilkinson, who was at that 
time a brigade major, about twenty-two years of age, and 
was accompanying General Gates, who had been detached 
by Schuyler with seven regiments to re-enforce Washington. 
Three of these regiments, as we have shown, had descended 
the Hudson to Peekskill, and were ordered by Lee to Morris- 
town. Gates had embarked with the remaining four, and 
landed with them at Esopus, whence he took a back route 
by the Delaware and the Minisink. 

On the 11th of December he was detained by a heavy 
snowstorm, in a sequestered valley near the Wallpeck in 
New Jersey. Being cut off from all information respecting 
the adverse armies, he detached Major Wilkinson to seek 
Washington's camp, with a letter, stating the force under 
his command, and inquiring what route he should take. Wil- 
kinson crossed the hills on horseback to Sussex court-house, 
took a guide and proceeded down the country. Washing- 
ton, he soon learned, had passed the Delaware several days 
before; the boats, he was told, had been removed from the 
ferries, so that he would find some difficulty in getting over, 
but Major-general Lee was at Morristown. Finding such 
obstacles in his way to the commander-in-chief, he deter- 
mined to seek the second in command, and ask orders from 
him for General Gates. Lee had decamped from Morris- 
town on the 12th of December, but had marched no further 
than Vealtown, barely eight miles distant. There he left 
General Sullivan with the troops, while he took up his quar- 
ters three miles off, at a tavern, at Baskingridge. As there 
was not a British cantonment within twenty miles, he took 
but a small guard for his protection, thinking himself per- 
fectly secure. 

300 U/orKs of U/a8l?ip^top Iruir}<$ 

About four o'clock in the morning Wilkinson arrived at 
his quarters. He was presented to the general as he lay in 
bed, and delivered into his hands the letter of General Gates. 
Lee, observing it was addressed to "Washington, declined 
opening it, until apprised by Wilkinson of its contents and 
the motives of his visit. He then broke the seal, and recom- 
mended Wilkinson to take repose. The latter lay down on 
his blanket, before a comfortable fire, among the officers of 
his suite; *'for we were not encumbered in those days,** 
says he, **with beds or baggage.*' 

Lee, naturally indolent, lingered in bed until eight 
o'clock. He then came down in his usual slovenly style, 
half- dressed, in shppers and blanket coat, his collar open, 
and his linen apparently of some days' wear. After some 
inquiries about the campaign in the North, he gave Wilkin- 
son a brief account of the operations of the main army, which 
he condemned in strong terms, and in his usual sarcastic 
way. He wasted the morning in altercation with some of 
the militia, particularly the Connecticut light-hoi^se ; '* sev- 
eral of whom," says Wilkinson, ^'appeared in large, full- 
bottomed perukes, and were treated very irreverently. One 
wanted forage, another his horse shod, another his pay, a 
fourth provisions, etc. ; to which the general replied, * Your 
wants are numerous ; but you have not mentioned the last — 
you want to go home, and shall be indulged ; for, d — you, 
you do no good here.' " 

Colonel Scammel, the adjutant-general, called from Gen^ 
eral Sullivan for orders concerning the morning's march. 
After musing a moment or two, Lee asked if he had a manu- 
script map of the country. It was produced, and spread 
upon a table. Wilkinson observed Lee trace with his finger 
the route from Vealtown to Pluckamin, thence to Somerset 

Cife of U/a8l?ir}<$tor> 301 

<x)urt-liouse, and on, by Rocky Hill, to Princeton; he then 
returned to Pluckamin, and traced the route in the same 
manner by Boundbrook to Brunswick, and after a close in- 
spection, carelessly said to Scammel, "Tell General Sullivan 
to move down toward Pluckamin ; that I will soon be with 
him." This, observes "Wilkinson, was off his route to Alex- 
andria on the Delaware, where he had been ordered to cross, 
and directly on that toward Brunswick and Princeton. He 
was convinced, therefore, that Lee meditated an attack on 
the British post at the latter place. 

From these various delays they did not sit down to break- 
fast before ten o'clock. After breakfast, Lee sat writing a 
reply to General Gates, in which, as usual, he indulged in 
sarcastic comments on the commander-in-chief. *'The in- 
genious maneuver of Fort "Washington," writes he, "has 
completely unhinged the goodly fabric we had been build- 
ing. There never was so d — d a stroke ; enire nous, a cer- 
tain great man is most damnably deficient. He has thrown 
me into a situation where I have my choice of difficulties: if 
I stay in this province I risk myself and army ; and if I do 
not stay, the province is lost forever. ... As to what re- 
lates to yourself, if you think you can be in time to aid the 
general, I would have you by all means go; you will at least 
save your army," etc.* 

"While Lee was writing, "Wilkinson was looking out of a 
window down a lane, about a hundred yards in length, lead- 
ing from the house to the main road. Suddenly a party of 
British dragoons turned a corner of the avenue at a full 
charge. "Here, sir, are the British cavalry!" exclaimed 
Wilkinson. ""Where?" replied Lee, who had just signed his 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 1201. 

S02 U/or^s of U/a8l7iQ<$toi> Iruii?^ 

letter. ** Around the house!" — for they had opened file and 
surrounded it. "Where is the guard? d — the guard, why 
don't they fire?" Then, after a momentary pause — '*Do, 
sir, see what has become of the guard." 

The guards, alas! unwary as their general, and chilled 
by the air of a frosty morning, had stacked their arms and 
repaired to the south side of a house on the opposite side of 
the road to sun themselves, and were now chased by the 
dragoons in different directions. In fact, a tory, who had 
visited the general the evening before to complain of the loss 
of a horse taken by the army, having found where Lee was 
to lodge and breakfast, had ridden eighteen miles in the 
night to Brunswick and given the information, and had pi- 
loted back Colonel Harcourt with his dragoons.* 

The women of the house would fain have concealed Lee 
in a bed, but he rejected the proposition with disdain. Wil- 
kinson, according to his own account, posted himself in a 
place where only one person could approach at a time, and 
there took his stand, a pistol in each hand, resolved to shoot 
the first and second assailant, and then appeal to his sword. 
While in this ** unpleasant situation," as he terms it, he heard 
a voice declare, "If the general does not surrender in five 
minutes, I will set fire to the house!" After a short pause 
the threat was repeated, with a solemn oath. AYithin two 
minutes he heard it proclaimed, "Here is the general; he 
has surrendered." 

There was a shout of triumph, but a great hurry to make 
sure of the prize before the army should arrive to the rescue, 
A trumpet sounded the recall to the dragoons, who were 

* Jos. Trumbull to Gov. Trumbull. — Am. Archives, 5th 
Series, iii. 1265. 

Cife of U/a8t>ir)($toi7 303 

chasing the scattered gtiards. The general, bareheaded, and 
in his slippers and blanket coat, was mounted on Wilkinson^s 
horse, which stood at the door, and the troop clattered off 
with their prisoner to Brunswick. In three hours the boom- 
ing of cannon in that direction told the exultation of the 
enemy.* They boasted of having taken the American Pal- 
ladium ; for they considered Lee the most scientific and ex- 
perienced of the rebel generals. 

On the departure of the troops, Wilkinson, finding the 
coast clear, ventured from his stronghold, repaired to the 
stable, mounted the first horse he could find, and rode full 
speed in quest of General Sullivan, whom he found imder 
march toward Pluckamin. He handed him the letter to 
Gates, written by Lee the moment before his capture, and 
still open. Sullivan, having read it, returned it to Wilkin- 
son, and advised him to rejoin General Gates without delay : 
for his own part, being now in command, he changed his 
route, and pressed forward to join the commander-in-chief. 

The loss of Lee was a severe shock to the Americans; 
many of whom, as we have shown, looked to him as the 
man who was to rescue them from their critical and well- 
nigh desperate situation. With their regrets, however, were 
mingled painful doubts, caused by his delay in obeying the 
repeated summons of his commander-in-chief, when the lat- 
ter was in peril ; and by his exposing himself so unguardedly 
in the very neighborhood of the enemy. Some at first sus- 
pected that he had done so designedly, and with collusion ; 
but this was soon disproved by the indignities attending his 
capture, and his rigorous treatment subsequently by the Brit- 

* Jos. Trumbull to Gov, Trumbull.— Am. Archives, 5th 

Series, iii. 1265. 

304 U/orl^8 of U/ast^ip^top In/ir>^ 

ish ; who affected to consider him a deserter, from his having 
formerly served in their army. 

Wilkinson, who was at that time conversant with the 
cabals of the camp, and apparently in the confidence of some 
of the leaders, points out what he considers the true secret 
of Lee's conduct. His military reputation, originally very 
high, had been enhanced of late by its being generally known 
that he had been opposed to the occupation of Fort Wash- 
ington; while the fall of that fortress and other misfortunes 
of the campaign, though beyond the control of the command- 
er-in-chief, had quickened the discontent which, according 
to Wilkinson, had been generated against him at Cambridge, 
and raised a party against him in Congress, '^It was con- 
fidently asserted at the time/' adds he, *'but it is not 
worthy of credit, that a motion had been made in that body 
tending to supersede him in the command of the army. 
In the temper of the times, if General Lee had anticipated 
General Washington in cutting the cordon of the enemy be- 
tween New York and the Delaware, the commander-in-chief 
would probably have been superseded. In this case, Lee 
would have succeeded him^" 

What an unfortunate change would it have been for the 
country ! Lee was undoubtedly a man of brilliant talents, 
shrewd sagacity, and much knowledge and experience in the 
art of war ; but he was willful and uncertain in his temper, 
self-indulgent in his habits, and an egotist in warfare ; boldly 
dashing for a soldier's glory, rather than warily acting for 
a country's good. He wanted those great moral qualities 
which, in addition to military capacity, inspired such uni- 
versal confidence in the wisdom, rectitude, and patriotism of 
Washington, enabling him to direct and control legislative 
bodies as well as armies ; to harmonize the jarring passions 

Clfe of U/asl?ir7<$tor7 305 

and jealousies of a wide and imperfect confederacy, and to 
cope with the varied exigencies of the Revolution. 

The very retreat which Washington had just effected 
through the Jerseys bore evidence to his generalship. 
Thomas Paine, who had accompanied the army **from 
Fort Lee to the edge of Pennsylvania, ' ' thus speaks in one 
of his writings published at the time : ' * With a handful of 
men we sustained an orderly retreat for near a hundred 
miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field-pieces, the 
greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. 
None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were 
three weeks in performing it, that the country might have 
time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the 
enemy, and remained out until dark. The sign of fear 
was not seen in our camp; and had not some of the cow- 
ardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through 
the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged." 

And this is his testimony to the moral qualities of the 
commander-in-chief, as evinced in this time of perils and 
hardships: *' Voltaire has remarked that King William never 
appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action. 
The same remark may be made of General Washington, for 
the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some 
minds, which cannot be unlocked by trifles; but which, when 
unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude ; and I reckon it 
among those kinds of public blessings which we do not im- 
mediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted 
health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon 
care." '^ 

* American Crisis, No. 1. 

306 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruipi^ 


Washington clothed with Additional Powers — Recruitment of the 
Army — Increased Pay — Colonel John Cadwalader — Arrival of 
Sullivan— Gates — Wilkinson — A Coup de Main meditated — Post- 
ure of Affairs at Trenton — Gates declines to take a part — His 
Comments on Washington's Plans — Preparations for the Coup 
de Main — Crossing of the Delaware — Attack on the Enemy's 
Forces at Trenton — Death of Rahl — His Character 

*' Before you receive this letter,'* writes Washington to 
his brother Augustine, '*you will undoubtedly have heard of 
the captivity of General Lee. This is an additional misfort- 
une ; and the more vexatious, as it was by his own folly and 
imprudence, and without a view to effect any good, that he 
was taken. As he went to lodge three miles out of his own 
camp, and within twenty miles of the enemy, a rascally 
tory rode in the night to give notice of it to the enemy, who 
sent a party of light-horse that seized him and carried him 
off with every mark of triumph and indignity." 

This is the severest comment that the magnanimous spirit 
of Washington permitted him to make on the conduct and 
fortunes of the man who would have supplanted him; and 
this is made in his private correspondence with his brother. 
No harsh strictures on them appear in his official letters to 
Congress or the Board of War; nothing but regret for his 
capture, as a loss to the service. 

In the same letter he speaks of the critical state of affairs : 
"If every nerve is not strained to recruit the army with all 
possible expedition, I think the game is pretty nearly up. 
. . . You can form no idea of the perplexity of my situa- 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top ' 307 

tion. No man, I believe, ever had a greater choice of evils 
and less means to extricate himself from them. However, 
under a full persuasion of the justice of our cause, I cannot 
entertain an idea that it will finally sink; though it may 
remain for some time under a cloud." 

Fortunately, Congress, prior to their adjournment, had 
resolved that, "until they should otherwise order, General 
Washington should be possessed of all power to order and 
direct all things relative to the department and to the opera- 
tions of war." Thus empowered, he proceeded immediately 
to recruit three battalions of artillery. To those whose terms 
were expiring he promised an augmentation of twenty-five 
per cent upon their pay, and a bounty of ten dollars to the 
men for six weeks' service. *'It was no time," he said, **to 
stand upon expense ; nor in matters of self-evident exigency, 
to refer to Congress at the distance of a hundred and thirty 
or forty miles." "If any good officers will offer to raise men 
upon Continental pay and establishment in this quarter, I 
shall encourage them to do so, and regiment them when they 
have done it. It may be thought that I am going a good 
deal out of the line of my duty to adopt these measures, or 
to advise thus freely. A character to lose, an estate to for- 
feit, the inestimable blessings of liberty at stake, and a life 
devoted, must be my excuse." * 

The promise of increased pay and bounties had kept to- 
gether for a time the dissolving army. The local militia 
began to turn out freely. Colonel John Cadwalader, a gen- 
tleman of gallant spirit, and cultivated mind and manners, 
brought a large volunteer detachment, well equipped, and 
composed principally of Philadelphia troops. Washington, 

* Letter to the President of Congress. 

308 U/or^8 of U/asf^ip^tor) IruiQ^ 

who held Cadwalader in high esteem, assigned him an im- 
portant station at Bristol, with Colonel Reed, who was his 
intimate friend, as an associate. They had it in charge to 
keep a watchful eye upon Count Donop's Hessians, who were 
cantoned along the opposite shore from Bordentown to the 
Black Horse. 

On the 20th of December arrived General Sullivan in 
camp, with the troops recently commanded by the unlucky 
Lee. They were in a miserable plight; destitute of almost 
everything; many of them fit only for the hospital, and those 
whose terms were nearly out thinking of nothing but their 
discharge. About four hundred of them, who were Rhode 
Islanders, were sent down under Colonel Hitchcock to re en- 
force Cadwalader; who was now styled brigadier-general by 
courtesy, lest the Continental troops might object to act un- 
der his command. 

On the same day arrived General Gates, with the rem- 
nants of four regiments from the Northern army. With 
him came "Wilkinson, who now resumed his station as bri- 
gade-major in St. Clair's brigade, to which he belonged. 
To his Memoirs we are indebted for notices of the command- 
er-in-chief. "When the divisions of Sullivan and Gates 
joined General Washington," writes Wilkinson, *'he found 
his numbers increased, yet his difficulties were not sensibly 
diminished ; ten days would disband his corps, and leave him 
fourteen hundred men, miserably provided in all things. I 
saw him in that gloomy period ; dined with him, and atten- 
tively marked his aspect; always grave and thoughtful, he 
appeared at that time pensive and solemn in the extreme." 

There were vivid schemes forming under that solemn 
aspect. The time seemed now propitious for the coup de 
main which Washington had of late been meditating. 

Cife of U/asl^ipi^tor;) 309 

Everytliing showed careless confidence on the part of the 
enemy. Howe was in winter quarters at New York. His 
troops were loosely cantoned about the Jerseys, from the 
Delaware to Brunswick, so that they could not readily be 
brought to act in concert on a sudden alarm. The Hessians 
were in the advance, stationed along the Delaware, facing 
the American lines, which were along the west bank. Corn- 
wallis, thinking his work accomplished, had obtained leave 
of absence, and was likewise at New York, preparing to em- 
bark for England. Washington had now between five and 
six thousand men fit for service ; with these he meditated to 
cross the river at night, at different points, and make simul- 
taneous attacks upon the Hessian advance posts. 

He calculated upon the eager support of his troops, who 
were burning to revenge the outrages on their homes and 
families committed by these foreign mercenaries. They con- 
sidered the Hessians mere hirelings ; slaves to a petty despot, 
fighting for sordid pay, and actuated by no sentiment of pa- 
triotism or honor. They had rendered themselves the horror 
of the Jerseys, by rapine, brutality, and heartlessness. At 
first, their military discipline had inspired awe, but of late 
they had become careless and unguarded, knowing the broken 
and dispirited state of the Americans, and considering them 
incapable of any offensive enterprise. 

A brigade of three Hessian regiments, those of Rahl,* 
Lossberg, and Knyphausen, were stationed at Trenton. Col- 
onel Rahl had the command of the post at his own solicita- 
tion, and in consequence of the laurels he had gained at 

* Seldom has a name of so few letters been spelled so 
many ways as that of this commander. We find it written 
Rail in the military journals before us ; yet we adhere to the 
cne hitherto adopted by us, apparently on good authority. 

SlO U/or^8 of U/a8l7iQ<$toi7 Iruir)^ 

Wliite Plains and Fort Washington. We have before us 
journals of two Hessian lieutenants and a corporal, which 
give graphic particulars of the colonel and his post. Accord- 
ing to their representations, he, with all his bravery, waa 
little fitted for such an important command. He lacked the 
necessary vigilance and forecast. 

One of the lieutenants speaks of him in a sarcastic vein, 
and evidently with some degree of prejudice. According 
to his account, there was more bustle than business at the 
post. The men were harassed with watches, detachments, 
and pickets, without purpose and without end. The cannon 
must be drawn forth every day from their proper places, and 
paraded about the town, seemingly only to make a stir and 

The lieutenant was especially annoyed by the colonel's 
passion for music. Whether his men when off duty were 
well or ill clad, whether they kept their muskets clean and 
bright, and their ammunition in good order, was of little 
moment to the colonel, he never inquired about it; but the 
music! that was the thing! the hautboy — he never could 
have enough of them. The main guard was at no great 
distance from his quarters, and the music could not linger 
there long enough. There was a church close by, surrounded 
by palings; the officer on guard must march round and 
round it, with his men and musicians, looking, says the lieu- 
tenant, like a Catholic procession, wanting only the cross 
and the banner, and chanting choristers. 

According to the same authority, Rahl was a boon com- 
panion; made merry until a late hour in the night, and then 
lay in bed until nine o'clock in the morning. When the 
officers came to parade between ten and eleven o'clock, and 
presented themselves at headquarters, he was often in his 

Cife of U/asI^iQ^tor) 311 

bath, and the guard must be kept waiting half an hour 
longer. On parade, too, when any other commander would 
take occasion to talk with his staff officers and others upon 
duty about the concerns of the garrison, the colonel attended 
to nothing but the music — he was wrapped up in it, to the 
great disgust of the testy lieutenant. 

And then, according to the latter, he took no preca-utions 
against the possibility of being attacked. A veteran officer, 
Major von Dechow, proposed that some works should be 
thrown up, where the cannon might be placed, ready against 
any assault. '* "Works! — pooh, pooh!" — the colonel made 
merry with the very idea — using an unseemly jest, which we 
forbear to quote, *'An assault by the rebels! Let them 
come! "We'll at them with the bayonet." 

The veteran Dechow gravely persisted in his counsels. 
"Herr <3olonel," said he, respectfully, "it costs almost noth- 
ing; If it does not help, it does not harm." The pragmatical 
lieutenant, too, joined in the advice, and offered to under- 
take the work. The jovial colonel only repeated his joke, 
went away laughing at them both, and no works were 
thrown up. 

The lieutenant, sorely nettled, observes sneeringly: "He 
believed the name of Rahl more fearful and redoubtable than 
all the works of Yauban and Cohorn, and that no rebel would 
dare to encounter it. A fit man truly to command a corps : 
and etill more to defend a place lying so near an enemy 
having a hundred times his advantages. Everything with 
Mm was done heedlessly and without forecast." * 

Such is the account given of this brave, but inconsiderate 
and light-hearted commander ; given, however, by an officer 

* Tagebuch eines Hessischen officiers. — MS. 

3VZ U/or^s of U/ast^iQ^tor) Iruir^^ 

not of his regiment. The honest corporal already mentioned, 
who was one of Rahl's own men, does him more justice. 
According to his journal, rumors that the Americans medi- 
tated an attack had aroused the vigilance of the colonel, and 
on the 21st of December he had reconnoitered the banks of 
the Delaware with a strong detachment, quite to Frankfort, 
to see if there were any movements of the Americans indica- 
tive of an intention to cross the river. He had returned 
without seeing any ; but had since caused pickets and alarm 
posts to be stationed every night outside the town.* 

Such was the posture of affairs at Trenton at the time 
the coup de main was meditated. 

Whatever was to be done, however, must be done quickly, 
before the river was frozen. An intercepted letter had con- 
vinced "Washington of what he had before suspeotad, that 
Howe was only waiting for that event to resume active 
operations, cross the river on the ice, and push on triumph- 
antly to Philadelphia. 

He communicated his project to Gates, and wished him 
to go to Bristol, take command there, and co-operate from 
that quarter. Gates, however, pleaded ill health, and re- 
quested leave to proceed to Philadelphia. 

The request may have surprised Washington, considering 
the spirited enterprise that was on foot; but Gates, as has 
before been observed, had a disinclination to serve imme- 
diately under the commander-in-chief; like Lee^ he had a, 
disparaging opinion of him, or rather an impatience of his 
supremacy. He had, moreover, an ulterior object in view. 
Having been disappointed and chagrined in finding himself 
subordinate to General Schuyler in the Northern campaign, 

* Tagebuch des corporals Johannes Reuber. — MS. 

Cife of U/asI^iQ^toi) 313 

he was now intent on making interest among the members 
of Congress for an independent command. Washington 
urged that, on his way to Philadelphia, he would at least 
stop for a day or two at Bristol, to concert a plan of opera- 
tions with Reed and Cadwalader, and adjust any little ques- 
tions of etiquette and command that might arise between the 
Continental colonels who had gone thither with Lee's troops^ 
and the volunteer officers stationed there.* 

He does not appear to have complied even with this 
request. According to Wilkinson^s account, he took quarters 
at Newtown, and set out thence for Baltimore on the 24;th 
of December, the very day before that of the intended coup 
de main. He prevailed on Wilkinson to accompany him 
as far as Philadelphia. On the road he appeared to be much 
depressed in spirit; but he relieved himself, like Lee, by 
criticising the plans of the commander-in-chief. ''He fre- 
quently," writes Wilkinson, ''expressed the opinion that, 
while Washington was watching the enemy above Trenton, 
they would construct bateaux, pass the Delaware in his rear, 
and take possession of Philadelphia before he was aware ; and 
that, instead of vainly attempting to stop Sir William Howe 
at the Delaware, General Washington ought to retire to the 
south of the Susquehanna, and there form an army. He 
said it tvas his intention to propose this measure to Con^ 
gress at Baltimore, and urged me to accompany him to that 
place; but my duty forbade the thought." 

Here we have somewhat of a counterpart to Lee's project 
of eclipsing the commander-in-chief. Evidently the two 
military veterans who had once been in conclave with him 
at Mount Vernon considered the truncheon of command 
falling from his grasp. 

* Washington to Gates. Gates's Papers. 
Vol. XIII,—* * * 14 

314 U/orl^s of U/asl?ii7($tOQ Iruip9 

The projected attack upon the Hessian posts was to be 

1st. Washington was to cross the Delaware with a con- 
siderable force, at McKonkey's Ferry (now Taylorsville), 
about nine miles above Trenton, and march down upon that 
place, where Rahl's cantonment comprised a brigade of fif- 
teen hundred Hessians, a troop of British light-horse, and 
a number of chasseurs. 

2d. General Ewing, with a body of Pennsylvania militia, 
was to cross at a ferry about a mile below Trenton ; secure 
the bridge over the Assunpink Creek, a stream flowing 
along the south side of the town, and cut off any retreat 
of the enemy in that direction. 

3d. General Putnam, with the troops occupied in fortify- 
ing Philadelphia, and those under General Cadwalader, was 
to cross below Burlington, and attack the lower posts under 
Count Donop. The several divisions were to cross the Dela- 
ware at night, so as to be ready for simultaneous action by 
five o'clock in the morning. 

Seldom is a combined plan carried into full operation. 
Symptoms of an insurrection in Philadelphia obliged Put- 
nam to remain with some force in that city ; but he detached 
five or six hundred of the Pennsylvania militia under Colonel 
GrifiSn, his adjutant-general, who threw himself into the 
Jerseys, to be at hand to co-operate with Cadwalader. 

A letter from Washington to Colonel Reed, who was 
stationed with Cadwalader, shows the anxiety of his mind, 
and his consciousness of the peril of the enterprise. 

''Christmas day at night, one hour before day, is the 
time fixed upon for our attempt upon Trenton. For Heaven's 
sake keep this to yourself, as the discovery of it may prove 
fatal to us; our numbers, I am sorry to say, being less than 




Cife of ll/asl7ir>(5too 315 

I had any conception of; yet nothing but necessity, dire 
necessity, will, nay must, justify an attack. Prepare, and, 
in concert with Griffin, attack as many of their posts as you 
possibly can, with a prospect of success; the more we can 
attack at the same instant, the more confusion we shall 
spread, and the greater good will result from it. ... I 
have ordered our men to be provided with three days' pro- 
visions ready cooked, with which, and their blankets, they 
are to march ; for if we are successful, which Heaven grant, 
and the circumstances favor, we may push on. I shall direct 
every ferry and ford to be well guarded, and not a soul 
suffered to pass without an officer's going down with the 
permit. Do the same with you." 

It has been said that Christmas night was fixed upon for 
the enterprise because the Germans are prone to revel and 
carouse on that festival, and it was supposed a great part 
of the troops would be intoxicated and in a state of disorder 
and confusion; but in truth Washington would have chosen 
an earlier day had it been in his power. ''We could not 
ripen matters for the attack before the time mentioned," 
said he in his letter to Reed, "so much out of sorts, and so 
much in want of everything, are the troops under Sullivan. " 

Early on the eventful evening (Dec. 25th), the troops 
destined for Washington's part of the attack, about two 
thousand four hundred strong, with a train of twenty small 
pieces, were paraded near McKonkey's Ferry, ready to pass 
as soon as it grew dark, in the hope of being all on the other 
side by twelve o'clock. Washington repaired to the ground 
accompanied by Generals Greene, Sullivan, Mercer, Stephen, 
and Lord Stirling. Greene was full of ardor for the enter- 
prise ; eager, no doubt, to wipe out the recollection of Fort 
Washington. It was, indeed, an anxious moment for all. 

316 U/orl^8 of U/a8l?ir)^top Iruii?^ 

We have here some circumstances furnished us by the 
Memoirs of Wilkinson. That officer had returned from 
Philadelphia, and brought a letter from Gates to Washing- 
ton. There was some snow on the ground, and he had traced 
the march of the troops for the last few miles by the blood 
from the feet of those whose shoes were broken. Being 
directed to Washington's quarters, he found him, he says, 
alone, with his whip in his hand, prepared to mount his 
horse. *'When I presented the letter of General Gates to 
him, before receiving it, he exclaimed with solemnity: 
*What a time is this to hand me letters!' I answered that 
I had been charged with it by General Gates. 'By General 
Gates! Where is he?' 'I left him this morning in Phila- 
delphia.' 'What was he doing there?' 'I understood him 
that he was on his way to Congress. ' He earnestly repeated, 
*0n his way to Congress!' then broke the seal, and I made 
my bow and joined General St. Clair on the bank of the 

Did Washington surmise the incipient intrigues and cabals 
that were already aiming to undermine him? Had Gates's 
eagerness to push on to Congress, instead of remaining with 
the army in a moment of daring enterprise, suggested any 
doubts as to his object? Perhaps not. Washington's nature 
was too noble to be suspicious; and yet he had received 
sufficient cause to be distrustful. 

Boats being in readiness, the troops began to cross about 
sunset. The weather was intensely cold ; the wind was high, 
the current strong, and the river full of floating ice. Colonel 
Glover, with his amphibious regiment of Marblehead fisher- 
men, was in advance ; the same who had navigated the army 
across the Sound, in its retreat from Brooklyn on Long 
Island, to New York. They were men accustomed to battle 

Cife of \JJzsl)\T)(l^tOT) 317 

with the elements, yet with all their skill and experience the 
crossing was difficult and perilous. Washington, who had 
crossed with the troops, stood anxiously, yet patiently, on 
the eastern bank, while one precious hour after another 
elapsed, until the transportation of the artillery should be 
effected. The night was dark and tempestuous, the drifting 
ice drove the boats out of their course, and threatened them 
with destruction. Colonel Knox, who attended to the cross- 
ing of the artillery, assisted with his labors, but still more 
with his *' stentorian lungs,'* giving orders and directions. 

It was three o'clock before the artillery was landed, and 
nearly four before the troops took up their line of march. 
Trenton was nine miles distant ; and not to be reached before 
daylight. To surprise it, therefore, was out of the question. 
There was no making a retreat without being discovered, and 
harassed in repassing the river. Besides, the troops from the 
other points might have crossed, and co-operation was essen- 
tial to their safety. Washington resolved to push forward, 
and trust to Providence. 

He formed the troops into two columns. The first he 
led himself, accompanied by Greene, Stirling, Mercer, and 
Stephen; it was to make a circuit by the upper or Penn- 
ington road, to the north of Trenton. The other, led by 
Sullivan, and including the brigade of St. Clair, was to take 
the lower river road, leading to the west end of the town. 
Sullivan's column was to halt a few moments at a cross- 
road leading to Rowland's Ferry to give Washington's 
column time to effect its circuit, so that the attack might 
be simultaneous. On arriving at Trenton they were to force 
the outer guards, and push directly into the town before the 
enemy had time to form. 

The Hessian journals before us enable us to give the 

318 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^tOQ Iruii)<$ 

reader a glance into the opposite camp on this eventful night. 
The situation of Washington was more critical than he was 
aware. Notwithstanding the secrecy with which his plans 
had been conducted, Colonel Rahl had received a warning 
from General Grant, at Princeton, of the intended attack, 
and of the very time it was to be made, but stating that it 
was to be by a detachment under Lord Stirling. Rahl was 
accordingly on the alert. 

It so happened that about dusk of this very evening, 
when Washington must have been preparing to cross the 
Delaware, there were alarm guns and firing at the Trenton 
outpost. The whole garrison was instantly drawn out under 
arms, and Colonel Rahl hastened to the outpost. It was 
found in confusion and six men wounded. A body of men 
had emerged from the woods, fired upon the picket, and 
immediately retired.* 

Colonel Rahl, with two companies and a field-piece, 
marched through the woods, and made the rounds of the 
outposts, but seeing and hearing nothing, and finding all 
quiet, returned. Supposing this to be the attack against 
which he had been warned, and that it was *'a mere flash 
in the pan,*' he relapsed into his feeling of security; and, 
as the night was cold and stormy, permitted the troops to 
return to their quarters and lay aside their arms. Thus the 

* Who it was that made this attack upon the outpost is 
not clearly ascertained. The Hessian lieutenant who com- 
manded at the picket says it was a patrol sent out by Wash- 
ington, under command of a captain, to reconnoiter, with 
strict orders not to engage, but if discovered to retire in- 
stantly as silently as possible. Colonel Reed, in a memo- 
randum, says it was an advance party returning from the 
Jerseys to Pennsylvania. — See Life and Correspondence, 
vol. i., p. 277. 

Clfe of U/ast?iQ<$tor> 319 

garrison and its unwary commander slept in fancied security 
at the very time that Washington and his troops were mak- 
ing their toilsome way across the Delaware. How perilous 
would have been their situation had their enemy been more 
vigilant ! 

It began to hail and snow as the troops commenced their 
march, and increased in violence as they advanced, the storm 
driving the sleet in their faces. So bitter was the cold that 
two of the men were frozen to death that night. The day 
dawned by the time Sullivan halted at the cross-road. It 
was discovered that the storm had rendered many of the 
muskets wet and useless. '*What is to be done?" inquired 
Sullivan of St. Clair. "You have nothing for it than to 
push on and use the bayonet," was the reply. While some 
of the soldiers were endeavoring to clear their muskets, and 
squibbing off priming, Sullivan dispatched an officer to ap- 
prise the commander-in-chief of the condition of their arms. 
He came back half dismayed by an indignant burst of Wash- 
ington, who ordered him to return instantly and tell General 
Sullivan to '* advance and charge." 

It was about eight o'clock when Washington's column 
arrived in the vicinity of the village. The storm, which 
had rendered the march intolerable, had kept every one 
within doors, and the snow had deadened the tread of the 
troops and the rumbling of the artillery. As they approached 
the village, Washington, who was in front, came to a man 
that was chopping wood by the roadside, and inquired, 
*'Which way is the Hessian picket?" ''I don't know," was 
the surly reply. ''You may tell," said Captain Forest of 
the artillery, *'for that is General Washington." The aspect 
of the man changed in an instant. Raising his hands to 
heaven, **God bless and prosper you!" cried he. ''The 

820 U/orl^g of U/aslpir^^tor) IruiQ^ 

picket Is in that house, and the sentry stands near that 

The advance guard was led by a brave young officer, 
Captain William A. AVashington, seconded by Lieutenant 
James Monroe (in after years President of the United 
States). They received orders to dislodge the picket. Here 
happened to be stationed the very lieutenant whose censures 
of the negligence of Colonel Rahl we have just quoted. By 
his own account, he was very near being entrapped in the 
guard-house. His sentries, he says, were not alert enough ; 
and had he not stepped out of the picket-house himself, and 
discovered the enemy, they would have been upon him before 
his men could scramble to their arms. **Der feind! der feind! 
heraus! heraus! (the enemy! the enemy I turn out I turn 
out!)" was now the cry. He at first, he says, made a stand, 
thinking he had a mere marauding party to deal with ; but, 
seeing heavy battalions at hand^ gave way, and fell back 
upon a company stationed to support the picket, but which 
appears to have been no better prepared against surprise. 

By this time the American artillery was unlimbered; 
Washington kept beside it, and the column proceeded. The 
report of firearms told that Sullivan was at the lower end 
of the town. Colonel Stark led his advanced guard, and did 
it in gallant style. The attacks, as concerted, were simul- 
taneous. The outposts were driven in ; the}" retreated, firing 
from behind houses. The Hessian drums beat to arms ; the 
trumpets of the light-horse sounded the alarm; the whole 
place was in an uproar. Some of the enemy made a wild 
anc] undirected fire from the windows of their quarters; 
others I'ushed forward in disorder, and attempted to form 

* Wilkinson's Memoirs, vol. i., p. 129. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toi) 321 

in the main street, while dragoons hastily mounted, and 
galloping about, added to the confusion. Washington ad- 
vanced with his column to the head of King Street ; riding 
beside Captain Forest of the artillery. When Forest's bat- 
tery of six guns was opened, the general kept on the left and 
advanced with it, giving directions to the fire. His position 
was an exposed one, and he was repeatedly entreated to fall 
back ; but all such entreaties were useless, when once he 
became heated in action. 

The enemy were training a couple of cannon in the main 
street to form a battery, which might have given the Amer- 
icans a serious check; but Captain Washington and Lieu- 
tenant Monroe, with a part of the advanced guard, rushed 
forward, drove the artillerists from their guns, and took the 
two pieces when on the point of being fired. Both of these 
officers were wounded; the captain in the wrist, the lieu- 
tenant in the shoulder. 

While Washington advanced on the north of the town, 
Sullivan approached on the west, and detached Stark to press 
on the lower or south end of the town. The British light- 
horse, and about five hundred Hessians and chasseurs, had 
been quartered in the lower part of the town. Seeing Wash- 
ington's column pressing in front, and hearing Stark thun- 
dering in their rear, they took headlong flight by the bridge 
across the Assunpink, and so along the banks of the Dela- 
ware toward Count Donop's encampment at Bordentown. 
Had Washington's plan been carried into full effect, their 
retreat would have been cut off by General Ewing; but 
that officer had been prevented from crossing the river by 
the ice. 

Colonel Rahl, according to the account of the lieutenant 
who had commanded the picket, completely lost his head in 

322 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^toi) Iruir?^ 

the confusion of the surprise. The latter, when driven 
in by the American advance, found the colonel on horse* 
back, endeavoring to rally his panic-stricken and disordered 
men, but himself sorely bewildered. He asked the lieu- 
tenant what was the force of the assailants. The latter 
answered that he had seen four or five battalions in the 
woods; three of them had fired upon him before he had re- 
treated — ''but," added he, ''there are other troops to the right 
and left, and the town will soon be surrounded." The col- 
onel rode in front of his troops — "Forward! march! advance! 
advance!" cried he. "With some difiiculty he succeeded in 
extricating his troops from the town, and leading them into 
an adjacent orchard. !N"ow was the time, writes the lieu- 
tenant, for him to have pushed for another place, there to 
make a stand. At this critical moment he might have done 
so with credit, and without loss. The colonel seems to have 
had such an intention. A rapid retreat by the Princeton 
road was apparently in his thoughts; but he lacked decision. 
The idea of flying before the rebels was intolerable. Some 
one, too, exclaimed at the ruinous loss of leaving all their 
baggage to be plundered by the enemy. Changing his 
mind, he made a rash resolve. "All who are my grenadiers, 
forward!" cried he, and went back, writes his corporal, like 
a storm upon the town. "What madness was this!" writes 
the critical lieutenant. "A town that was of no use to us; 
that but ten or fifteen minutes before he had gladly left ; that 
was now filled with three or four thousand enemies, sta- 
tioned in houses or behind walls and hedges, and a battery 
of six cannon planted on the main street. And he to think 
of retaking it with his six or seven hundred men and their 

Still he led his grenadiers bravely but rashly on, when, 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^tOQ 323 

in the midst of his career, he received a fatal wound from 
a musket-ball and fell from his horse. His men, left with- 
out their chief, were struck with dismay; heedless of the 
orders of the second in command, they retreated by the right 
up the banks of the Assunpink, intending to escape to Prince- 
ton. "Washington saw their design, and threw Colonel 
Hand's corps of Pennsylvania riflemen in their way; while 
a body of Virginia troops gained their left. Brought to a 
stand, and perfectly bewildered, "Washington thought they 
were forming in order of battle, and ordered a discharge 
of canister shot. "Sir, they have struck," exclaimed Forest. 
*' Struck!" echoed the general. "Yes, sir, their colors are 
down." "So they are!" replied "Washington, and spurred 
in that direction,' followed by Forest and his whole com- 
mand. The men grounded their arms and surrendered at 
discretion; "but had not Colonel Rahl been severely wound- 
ed," remarks his loyal corporal, **we would never have been 
taken alive!" 

The skirmishing had now ceased in every direction. 
Major Wilkinson, who was with the lower column, was sent 
to the commander-in-chief for orders. He rode up, he says, 
at the moment that Colonel Rahl, supported by a file of ser- 
geants, was presenting his sword. "On my approach," 
continues he, "the commander-in-chief took me by the hand, 
and observed, 'Major "Wilkinson, this is a glorious day for 
our country!' his countenance beaming with complacency; 
while the unfortunate Rahl, who the day before would not 
have changed fortunes with him, now pale, bleeding, and 
covered with blood, in broken accents seemed to implore 
those attentions which the victor was well disposed to bestow 
on him." 

He was, in fact, conveyed with great care to his quarters, 

324 U/orl^s of U/asIpio^toi) Irv'iT)^ 

which were in the house of a kind and respectable Quaker 

The number of prisoners taken in this affair was nearly 
one thousand, of which thirty-two were officers. The vet- 
eran Major von Dechow, who had urged in vain the throw- 
ing up of breastworks, received a mortal wound, of which 
he died in Trenton. Washington's triumph, however, was 
impaired by the failure of the two simultaneous attacks. 
General Ewing, who was to have crossed before day at 
Trenton Ferry, and taken possession of the bridge leading 
out of the town, over which the light-horse and Hessians 
retreated, was prevented by the quantity of ice in the river. 
Cadwalader was hindered by the same obstacle. He got 
part of his troops over, but found it impossible to embark his 
cannon, and was obliged, therefore, to return to the Penn- 
sylvania side of the river. Had he and Ewing crossed, 
Donop's quarters would have been beaten up, and the fugi- 
tives from Trenton intercepted. 

By the failure of this part of his plan, Washington had 
been exposed to the most imminent hazard. The force with 
which he had crossed, twenty -four hundred men, raw troops, 
was not enough to cope with the veteran garrison, had it 
been properly on its guard; and then there were the troops 
under Donop at hand to co-operate with it. Nothing saved 
him but the utter panic of the enemy ; their want of proper 
alarm places, and their exaggerated idea of his forces: for 
one of the journals J)efore us (the corporal's) states that he 
had with him fifteen thousand men, and another six thou- 
sand. * Even now that the place was in his possession he 

* The lieutenant gives the latter number on the authority 
of Lord Stirling; but his lordship meant the whole number 
of men intended for the three several attacks. The force that 
actually crossed with Washington was what we have stated. 

Cife of U/a8l?ir><$tor> 325 

dared not linger in it. There was a superior force under 
Donop below him, and a strong battalion of infantry at 
Princeton. His own troops were exhausted by the opera- 
tions of the night and morning in cold, rain, snow and storm. 
They had to guard about a thousand prisoners, taken in 
action, or found concealed in houses; there was little pros- 
pect of succor owing to the season and the state of the river. 
Washington gave up, therefore, all idea of immediately pur- 
suing the enemy or keeping possession of Trenton, and 
determined to recross the Delaware with his prisoners and 
captured artillery. Understanding that the brave but un- 
fortunate Bahl was in a dying state, he paid him a visit 
before leaving Trenton, accompanied by General Greene. 
They found him at his quarters in the house of a Quaker 
family. Their visit, and the respectful consideration and 
unaffected sympathy manifested by them, evidently soothed 
the feelings of the unfortunate soldier; now stripped of his 
late- won laurels, and resigned to die rather than outlive 
his honor.* We have given a somewhat sarcastic portrait 
of the colonel drawn by one of his lieutenants; another, 
Lieutenant Piel, paints with a soberer and more reliable 

''For our whole ill luck,'* writes he, **we have to thank 
Colonel Rahl. It never occurred to him that the rebels 
might attack us; and, therefore, he had taken scarce any 
precautions against such an event. In truth I must confess 
we have universally thought too little of the rebels, who, 
until now, have never on any occasion been able to with- 
stand us. Our brigadier (Rahl) was too proud to retire a 
step before such an enemy, although nothing remained for 
us but to retreat. 

* Journal of Lieutenant Piel, 

326 U/orKs of U/asl^iQi^top IruiQ^ 

"General Howe had judged this man from a wrong point 
of view, or he would hardly have intrusted such an impor- 
tant post as Trenton to him. He was formed for a soldier, 
but not for a general. At the capture of Fort Washington 
he had gained much honor while under the command of a 
great general, but he lost all his renown at Trenton where 
he himself was general. He had courage to dare the hardi- 
est enterprise ; but he alone wanted the cool presence of mind 
necessary in a surprise like that at Trenton. His vivacity 
was too great; one thought crowded on another, so that he 
could come to no decision. Considered as a private man, 
he was deserving of high regard. He was generous, open- 
handed, hospitable ; never cringing to his superiors, nor ar- 
rogant to his inferiors; but courteous to all. Even his do- 
mestics were treated more like friends than servants. '^ 

The loyal corporal, too, contributes his mite of praise to 
his dying commander. "In his last agony," writes the 
grateful soldier, "he yet thought of his grenadiers, and 
entreated General Washington that nothing might be taken 
from them but their arms. A promise was given," adds the 
corporal, "and was kept." 

Even the satirical lieutenant half mourns over his mem- 
ory. "He died," says he, "on the following evening, and 
lies buried in this place which he has rendered so famous, in 
the graveyard of the Presbyterian church. Sleep well! dear 
Commander! (theurer Feldherr). The Americans will here- 
after set up a stone above thy grave with this inscription : 

"Hier liegt der Oberst Rahl, 
Mit ihm ist alles all ! 

(Here lies the Colonel Rahl, 
With him all is over.)" 

Cife of U/a8l?ir7($tOQ 327 


Treatment of the Hessian Prisoners — Their Interviews with Wash- 
ington — ^Their Reception by the People 

The Hessian prisoners were conveyed across the Dela- 
ware by Johnson's Ferry into Pennsylvania; the private sol- 
diers were marched off immediately to Newtown ; the ofiScers, 
twenty -three in number, remained in a small chamber in the 
Ferry House, where, according to their own account, they 
passed a dismal night; sore at heart that their recent tri- 
umphs at White Plains and Fort Washington should be so 
suddenly eclipsed. 

On the following morning they were conducted to New- 
town, under the escort of Colonel Weedon His exterior, 
writes Lieutenant Piel, spoke but Httle in his favor, yet he 
won all our hearts by his kind and friendly conduct. 

At Newtown the ofi&cers were quartered in inns and pri- 
vate houses, the soldiers in the church and jail. The officers 
paid a visit to Lord Stirling, whom some of them had known 
from his being captured at Long Island. He received them 
with great kindness. *'Your general, Van Heister," said 
he, '* treated me like a brother when I was a prisoner, and 
so, gentlemen, will you be treated by me." 

''We had scarce seated ourselves," continues Lieutenant 
Piel, **when a long, meager, dark-looking man, whom we 
took for the parson of the place, stepped forth and held a 
discourse in German, in which he endeavored to set forth 

»28 U/orl^8 of U/asl^iQ^top Irurr>9 

the justice of the American side in this war. He told us he 
was a Hanoverian born ; called the king of England nothing 
but the Elector of Hanover, and spoke of him so contemptu- 
ously that his garrulity became intolerable. "We answered 
that we had not come to America to inquire which party was 
in the right ; but to fight for the king. 

**Lord StirHng, seeing how little we were edified by the 
preacher, relieved us from him by proposing to take us with 
him to visit General Washington. The latter received us 
very courteously, though we understood very little of what 
he said, as he spoke nothing but English, a language in 
which none of us at that time was strong. In his aspect 
shines forth nothing of the great man that he is universally 
considered. His eyes have scarce any fire. There is, how- 
ever, a smiling expression on his countenance when he speaks 
that wins affection and respect. He invited four of our oflB- 
cers to dine with him; the rest dined with Lord Stirling." 
One of these officers who dined with the commander-in-chief 
was the satirical lieutenant whom we have so often quoted, 
and who was stationed at the picket on the morning of the 
attack. However disparagingly he may have thought of 
his unfortunate commander, he evidently had a very good 
opinion of himself. *' General Washington, '^ writes he in 
his journal, "did me the honor to converse a good deal with 
me concerning the unfortunate affair. I told him freely my 
opinion that our dispositions had been bad, otherwise we 
should not have fallen into his hands. He asked me if I 
could have made better dispositions, and in what manner? 
I told him yes ; stated all the faults of our arrangements, 
and showed him how I would have done ; and would have 
managed to come out of the affair with honor." 

We have no doubt, from the specimens furnished in the 

Cife of \]Jzs\)iT)<^tOT) 329 

lieutenant's journal, that he went largely into his own merits 
and achievements, and the demerits and shortcomings of his 
luckless commander. Washington, he added, not only ap- 
plauded his exposition of what he would have done, but 
made him a eulogy thereupon, and upon his watchfulness, 
and the defense he had made with his handful of men when 
his picket was attacked. Yet according to his own account, 
in his journal, with all his watchfulness, he came near being 
caught napping. 

"General Washington," continues he, '*is a courteous 
and polite man, but very cautious and reserved ; talks lit- 
tle ; and has a crafty (listige) physiognomy. ' ' We surmise 
the lieutenant had the most of the talk on that occasion, and 
the crafty or sly expression in Washington's physiognomy 
may have been a lurking but suppressed smile, provoked by 
the lieutenant's self -laud at ion and wordiness. 

The Hessian prisoners were subsequently transferred from 
place to place, until they reached Winchester in the interior 
of Virginia. Wherever they arrived, people thronged from 
far and near to see these terrible beings, of whom they had 
received such formidable accounts ; and were surprised and 
disappointed to find them looking like other men. At first 
they had to endure the hootings and revilings of the multi- 
tude, for having hired themselves out to the trade of blood; 
and they especially speak of the scoldings they received from 
old women in the villages, who upbraided them for coming 
to rob them of their liberty. "At length," writes the cor- 
poral in his journal, "General Washington had written no- 
tices put up in town and country, that we were innocent of 
this war, and had joined in it not of our free will, but 
through compulsion. We should, therefore, be treated not 
as enemies, but friends. From this time," adds he, "things 

330 U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^tOQ Iruip^ 

went better with us. Every day came many out of the 
towns, old and young, rich and poor, and brought us pro- 
visions, and treated us with kindness and humanity/' * 


Episode — Colonel Griffin in the Jerseys — Donop decoyed — Inroad of 
Cadwalader and Reed — Retreat and Confusion of the Enemy's 
Outposts — Washington recrosses the Delaware with his Troops 
— The Game reversed — The Hessians hunted back through the 
Country — Washington made Military Dictator 

There was a kind of episode in the affair at Trenton. 
Colonel Griffin, who had thrown himself previously into the 
Jerseys with his detachment of Pennsylvania militia, found 
himself, through indisposition and the scanty number of his 
troops, unable to render efficient service in the proposed at- 
tack. He sent word to Cadwalader, therefore, that he should 
probably render him more real aid by making a demonstra- 
tion in front of Donop, and drawing him off so far into the 
interior as to be out of the way of rendering support tc 
Colonel Rahl. 

He accordingly presented himself in sight of Donop'? 
cantonment on the 25th of December, and succeeded iD 
drawing him out with nearly his whole force of two thou- 
sand men. He then retired slowly before him, skirmishing, 
but avoiding anything like an action, until he had lured him 
as far as Mount Holly ; when he left him to find his way 
back to his post at his leisure. 

The cannonade of Washington's attack in Trenton on the 


Tagebuch des corporals Johannes Reuber. — MS. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ^tor> 331 

morning of the 26th was distinctly heard at Cadwalader's 
camp at Bristol. Imperfect tidings of the result reached 
there about eleven o'clock, and produced the highest exulta- 
tion and excitement. Cadwalader made another attempt to 
cross the river and join Washington, whom he supposed to 
be still in the Jerseys, following up the blow he had struck. 
He could not effect the passage of the river with the most of 
his troops until midday of the 27th, when he received from 
Washington a detailed account of his success, and of his 
having recrossed into Pennsylvania. 

Cadwalader was now in a dilemma. Donop, he pre- 
sumed, was still at Mount Holly, whither Griffin had de- 
coyed him ; but he might soon march back. His forces were 
equal, if not superior in number to his own, and veterans, in- 
stead of raw militia. But then there was the glory of rival- 
ing the exploit at Trenton, and the importance of following 
out the effort for the relief of the Jerseys and the salvation 
of Philadelphia. Besides, Washington, in all probability, 
after disposing of his prisoners, had again crossed into the 
Jerseys, and might be acting offensively. 

Reed relieved Cadwalader from his dilemma by propos- 
ing that they should push on to Burlington, and there deter- 
mine, according to intelligence, whether to proceed to Bor- 
dentown or Mount Holly. The plan was adopted. There 
was an alarm that the Hessian yagers lurked in a neighbor- 
ing wood. Reed, accompanied by two officers, rode in ad- 
vance to reconnoiter. He sent word to Cadwalader that it 
was a false alarm, and the latter took up his line of march. 

Reed and his companions spurred on to reconnoiter the 
enemy's outposts, about four miles from Burlington, but 
pulled up at the place where the picket was usually sta- 
tioned. There was no smoke, nor any sign of a human be- 

'63'Z U/orHs of U/a8l;)ir)^tor> IruiQ^ 

ing. They rode up and found the place deserted. From the 
country people in the neighborhood they received an explana- 
tion. Count Donop had returned to his post from the pur- 
suit of Griffin only in time to hear of the disaster at Tren- 
ton. He immediately began a retreat in the utmost panic 
and confusion, calling in his guards and parties as he hur^ 
ried forward. The troops in the neighborhood of Burlington 
had decamped precipitately the preceding evening. 

Colonel Reed sent back intelligence of this to Cadwala- 
der, and still pushed on with his companions. As they rode 
along, they observed the inhabitants pulling down red rags 
which had been nailed to the doors ' tory signs to insure 
good-will from the British. Arrived at Bordentown, not an 
enemy was to be seen ; the fugitives from Trenton had spread 
a panic on the 26th, and the Hessians and their refugee ad- 
herents had fled in confusion, leaving their sick behind them. 
The broken and haggard looks of the inhabitants showed 
what they had suffered during the Hessian occupation. One 
of Reed's companions returned to Cadwalader, who had 
halted at Burlington, and advised him to proceed. 

Cadwalader wrote in the night to Washington, informing 
him of his whereabout, and that he should march for Bor- 
dentown in the morning. "If you should think proper to 
cross over," added he, "it may easily be effected at the place 
where we passed; a pursuit would keep up the panic. They 
went off with great precipitation, and pressed all the wagons 
in their reach ; I am told many of them are gone to South 
Amboy. If we can drive them from West Jersey, the suc- 
cess will raise an army next spring, and establish the credit 
of the Continental money to support it." 

There was another letter from Cadwalader, dated on the 
following day, from Bordentown. He had eighteen hundred 

Cife of U/a8l7ir?(;JtOQ 333 

men with him. Five hundred more were on their way to 
join him. General Mifflin, too, had sent over five hundred 
from Philadelphia and three hundred from Burlington, and 
was to follow with seven or eight hundred more. 

Colonel Reed, too, wrote from Trenton on the 28th. He 
had found that place without a single soldier of either army, 
and in a still more wretched condition than Bordentown. 
He urged Washington to recross the river, and pursue the 
advantages already gained. Donop might be overtaken be- 
fore he could reach Princeton or Brunswick, where the enemy 
were yet in force.* 

Washington needed no prompting of the kind. Bent 
upon following up his blow, he had barely allowed his 
troops a day or two to recover from recent exposure and fa- 
tigue, that they might have strength and spirit to pursue the 
retreating enemy, beat up other of their quarters, and en- 
tirely reverse affairs in the Jerseys. In this spirit he had 
written to Generals McDougall and Maxwell at Morristown, 
to collect as large a body of militia as possible, and harass 
the enemy in flank and rear. Heath, also, had been ordered 
to abandon the Highlands, which there was no need of 
guarding at this season of the year, and hasten down with 
the Eastern militia as rapidly as possible, by the way of 
Hackensack, continuing on until he should send him further 
orders. *'A fair opportunity is offered,'' said he, *'of driv- 
ing the enemy entirely from the Jerseys, or at least to the 
extremity of the province. ' ' 

Men of influence also were dispatched by him into differ- 
ent parts of the Jerseys to spirit up the militia to revenge the 
oppression, the ravage, and insults they had experienced from 

Life and Correspondence of Pres. Reed, vol. i., p. 281. 

334 U/or^s of U/a8l7io(^tOQ Iruio<$ 

the enemy, especially from the Hessians. *^If what they 
have suffered," said he, *'does not arouse their resentment, 
they must not possess the feelings of humanity.'' 

On the 29th, his troops began to cross the river. It would 
be a slow and difficult operation, owing to the ice ; two par- 
ties of light troops, therefore, were detached in advance, 
whom Colonel Reed was to send in pursuit of the enemy. 
They marched into Trenton about two o'clock, and were im- 
mediately put on the traces of Donop, to hang on his rear 
and harass him until other troops should come up. Cad- 
walader also detached a party of riflemen from Bordentown 
with like orders. Donop, in retreating, had divided his force, 
sending one part by a cross-road to Princeton, and hurrying 
on with the remainder to Brunswick. Notwithstanding the 
severity of the weather, and the wretchedness of the road, it 
was a service of animation and delight to the American 
troops to hunt back these Hessians through the country they 
bad recently outraged, and over ground which they them- 
selves had trodden so painfully and despondingly, in their 
retreat. In one instance, the riflemen surprised and capt- 
ured a party of refugees who lingered in the rearguard, 
among whom were several newly-made officers. Never was 
there a more sudden reversal in the game of war than this 
retreat of the heavy German veterans, harassed by light par- 
ties of a raw militia, which they so lately had driven like 
chaff before them. 

While this was going on, Washington was effecting the 
passage of his main force to Trenton. He himself had 
crossed on the 29th of December, but it took two days more 
to get the troops and artillery over the icy river, and that 
with great labor and difficulty. And now came a perplex- 
ity. With the year expired the term of several regiments, 

Cife of U/asl^lp($toi> 335 

which had seen most service and become inured to danger. 
Knowing how indispensable were such troops to lead on 
those which were raw and undisciplined, Washington had 
them paraded and invited to re-enlist. It was a difficult 
task to persuade fchem. They were haggard with fatigue, 
and hardship and privation of every kind; and their hearts 
yearned for home. By the persuasions of their officers, how- 
ever, and a bounty of ten dollars, the greater proportion of 
those from the eastward were induced to remain six weeks 

Hard money was necessary in this emergency. How 
was it to be furnished? The military chest was incom- 
petent. On the 30th, Washington wrote by express to Rob- 
ert Morris, the patriotic financier at Philadelphia, whom he 
knew to be eager that the blow should be followed up. **If 
you could possibly collect a sum, if it were but one hundred, 
or one hundred and fifty pounds, it would be of service." 

Morris received the letter in the evening. He was at his 
wits' end to raise the sum, for hard money was scarce. 
Fortunately, a wealthy Quaker, in this moment of exigency, 
supplied the *' sinews of war," and early the next morning 
the money was forwarded by the express. 

At this critical moment, too, Washington received a let- 
ter from a committee of Congress, transmitting him resolves 
of that body dated the 27th of December, investing him with 
military powers quite dictatorial. "Happy is it for this coun- 
try," writes the committee, "that the general of their forces 
can safely be intrusted with the most unlimited power, and 
neither personal security, liberty, nor property be in the least 
degree endangered thereby." * 

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 1510. 

536 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^tor) IruiQ<^ 

Washington's acknowledgment of this great mark of con- 
fidence was noble and characteristic. ' ' I find Congress have 
done me the honor to intrust me with powers, in my military 
capacity, of the highest nature and almost unlimited extent. 
Instead of thinking myself freed from all civil obligations 
by this mark of their confidence, 1 shall constantly bear in 
mind that, as the sword was the last resort for the preserva- 
tion of our liberties, so it ought to be the first thing laid aside 
when those Hberties are firmly established." 


Howe hears of the Affair at Trenton — Cornwallis sent back to the 
Jerseys — Reconnoitering Expedition of Reed — His Exploits — 
Washington in Peril at Trenton — Re-enforced by Troops under 
Cadwalader and Mifflin — Position of his Men — Cornwallis at 
Trenton — Repulsed at the Assunpink — ^The American Camp 
menaced — Night March of Washington — Affair at Princeton 
—-Death of Mercer — Rout of British Troops — Pursued by Wash- 
ington — Cornwallis at Princeton — Baffled and Perplexed — Wash- 
ington at Morristown — His System of Annoyance — The Tables 
turned upon the Enemy 

Gereral Howe was taking his ease in winter quarters 
in New York, waiting for the freezing of the Delaware to 
pursue his triumphant march to Philadelphia, when tidings 
were brought him of the surprise and capture of the Heg- 
sians at Trenton. ''That three old established regiments of 
a people who made war their profession should lay down 
their arms to a ragged and undisciplined militia, and that 
with scarcely any loss on either side," was a matter of 
amazement. He instantly stopped Lord Cornwallis, who 
was on the point of embarking for England, and sent him 
back in all haste to resume the command in the Jerseys. 

Cife of U/a8l?io<$top 337 

The ice in the Delaware impeded the crossing of the 
American troops, and gave the British time to draw in their 
scattered cantonments, and assemble their whole force at 
Princeton. "While his troops were yet crossing, Washington 
sent out Colonel Reed to reconnoiter the position and move- 
ments of the enemy, and obtain information. Six of the 
Philadelphia light-horse, spirited young fellows, but who 
had never seen service, volunteered to accompany Reed. 
They patroled the country to the very vicinity of Prince- 
ton, but could collect no information from the inhabitants; 
who were harassed, terrified, and bewildered by the ravag- 
ing marches to and fro of friend and enemy. 

Emerging from a wood almost within view of Princeton, 
they caught sight, from a rising ground, of two or three red 
coats passing from time to time from a bam to a dwelling- 
house. Here must be an outpost. Keeping the barn in a 
line with the house so as to cover their approach, they dashed 
up to the latter without being discovered, and surrounded it. 
Twelve British dragoons were within, who, though well 
armed, were so panicstricken that they surrendered without 
making defense. A commissary, also, was taken; the ser- 
geant of the dragoons alone escaped. Colonel Reed and his 
six cavaliers returned in triumph to headquarters. Impor- 
tant information was obtained from their prisoners. Lord 
Cornwallis had joined General Grant the day before at 
Princeton with a re-enforcement of chosen troops. They 
had noAV seven or eight thousand men, and were pressing 
wagons for a march upon Trenton. * 

Cadwalader, stationed at Crosswicks, about seven miles 
distant, between Bordentown and Trenton, sent intelligence 

* Life of Reed, i. 282. 
Vol. XIII.—** *16 

338 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^tOQ Irv/ip^ 

to the same purport, received by him from a young gentle- 
man who had escaped from Princeton. 

"Word, too, was brought from other quarters that General 
Howe was on the march with a thousand light troops, with 
which he had landed at Am boy. 

The situation of Washington was growing critical. The 
enemy were beginning to advance their large pickets toward 
Trenton. Everything indicated an approaching attack. The 
force with him was small; to retreat across the river would 
destroy the dawn of hope awakened in the bosoms of the 
Jersey militia by the late exploit; but to make a stand with- 
out re-enforcements was impossible. In this emergency, he 
called to his aid General Cadwalader from Crosswicks, and 
General Mifflin from Bordentown, with their collective forces, 
amounting to about three thousand six hundred men. He 
did it with reluctance, for it seemed like involving them in 
the common danger, but the exigency of the case admitted 
of no alternative. They promptly answered to his call, and, 
marching in the night, joined him on the 1st of January. 

Washington chose a position for his main body on the 
east side of the Assunpink. There was a narrow stone 
bridge across it, where the water was very deep; the same 
bridge over which part of RahPs brigade had escaped in the 
recent affair. He planted his artillery so as to command the 
bridge and the fords. His advance guard was stationed about 
three miles off in a wood, having in front a stream called 
Shabbakong Creek. 

Early on the morning of the 2d came certain w^ord that 
Comwallis was approaching with all his force. Strong par- 
ties were sent out under General Greene, who skirmished 
with the enemy, and harassed them in their advance. By 
twelve o'clock they reached the Shabbakong, and halted for 

Cife of U/a8l?ii)($top 339 

F^ time on its northern bank. Then, crossing it, and moving 
forward with rapidity, they drove the advance guard out of 
the woods, and pushed on until they reached a high ground 
near the town. Here Hand's corps of several battalions was 
drawn up, and held them for a time in check. All the par- 
ties in advance ultimately retreated to the main body, on the 
east side of the Assunpink, and found some diflSculty in 
crowding across the narrow bridge. 

From all these checks and delays, it was nearly sunset 
before Cornwallis with the head of his army entered Tren- 
ton. His rearguard under General Leslie rested at Maiden 
Head, about six miles distant, and nearly half way between 
Trenton and Princeton. Forming his troops into columns, 
he now made repeated attempts to cross the Assunpink at 
the bridge and the fords; but was as often repulsed by the 
artillery. For a part of the time Washington, mounted on 
a white horse, stationed himself at the south end of the 
bridge, issuing his orders. Each time the enemy was re- 
pulsed there was a shout along the American lines. At 
length they drew off, came to a halt, and lighted their camp 
fires. The Americans did the same, using the neighboring 
fences for the purpose. Sir William Erskine, who was with 
Cornwallis, urged him, it is said, to attack Washington that 
evening in his camp ; but his lordship declined ; he felt sure of 
the game which had so often escaped him ; he had at length, 
he thought, got Washington into a situation from which he 
could not escape, but where he might make a desperate 
stand; and he was willing to give his wearied troops a 
night's repose to prepare them for the closing struggle. He 
would be sure, he said, to '*bag the fox in the morning." 

A cannonade was kept up on both sides until dark ; but 
with little damage to the Americans. When night closed 

S40 U/orl^s of U/asl?ir>^tor> Iruir?^ 

in, the two camps lay in sight of each other's fires, ruminat- 
ing the bloody action of the following day. It was the most 
gloomy and anxious night that had yet closed in on the 
American army throughout its series of perils and disasters ; 
for there was no concealing the impending danger. But 
what must have been the feelings of the commander-in-chief, 
as he anxiously patroled his camp, and considered his des- 
perate position? A small stream, fordable in several places, 
was all that separated his raw, inexperienced army from an 
enemy vastly superior in numbers and discipline, and stung 
to action by the mortification of a late defeat. A general 
action with them must be ruinous ; but how was he to re- 
treat? Behind him was the Delaware, impassable from float- 
ing ice. Granting even (a thing not to be hoped) that a re- 
treat across it could be effected, the consequences would be 
equally fatal. The Jerseys would be left in possession of the 
enemy, endangering the immediate capture of Philadelphia, 
and sinking the public mind into despondency. 

In this darkest of moments a gleam of hope flashed upon 
his mind: a bold expedient suggested itself. Almost the 
whole of the enemy's forces must by this time be drawn out 
of Princeton and advancing by detachments toward Trenton, 
while their baggage and principal stores must remain weakly 
guarded at Brunswick. "Was it not possible, by a rapid 
night-march along the Quaker road, a different road from 
that on which General Leslie with the rearguard was rest- 
ing, to get past that force undiscovered, come by surprise 
upon those left at Princeton, capture or destroy what stores 
were left there, and then push on to Brunswick? This would 
save the army from being cut off ; would avoid the appear- 
ance of a defeat; and might draw the enemy away from 
Trenton, while some fortunate stroke might give additional 

Cife of U/a8l?ii>^top 341 

reputation to the American armSo Even should the enemy 
march on to Philadelphia, it could not in any case be pre- 
vented ; while a counter blow in the Jerseys would be of 
great consolation. 

Such was the plan which Washington revolved in his 
mind on the gloomy banks of the Assunpink, and which he 
laid before his officers in a council of war, held after night- 
fall, at the quarters of General Mercer. It met with instant 
concurrence, being of that hardy, adventurous kind which 
seems congenial with the American character. One formi- 
dable difficulty presented itself. The weather was unusually 
mild ; there was a thaw, by which the roads might be ren- 
dered deep and miry, and almost impassable. Fortunately, 
or rather providentially, as "Washington was prone to con- 
sider it, the wind veered to the north in the course of the 
evening; the weather became intensely cold, and in two 
hours the roads were once more hard and frost-bound. In 
the meantime the baggage of the army was silently removed 
to Burlington, and every other preparation was made for a 
rapid march. To deceive the enemy, men were employed to 
dig trenches near the bridge within hearing of the British 
sentries, with orders to continue noisily at work until day- 
break; others were to go the rounds; relieve guards at the 
bridge and fords; keep up the camp fires, and maintain all 
the appearance of a regular encampment. At daybreak they 
were to hasten after the army. 

In the dead of the night the army drew quietly out of 
the encampment and began its march. General Mercer, 
mounted on a favorite gray horse, was in the advance with 
the remnant of his flying camp, now but about three hun- 
dred and fifty men, principally relics of the brave Delaware 
and Maryland regiments, with some of the Pennsylvania 

342 U/orl^s of U/aet^ip^toi) Iruii)^ 

militia. Among the latter were youths belonging to the best 
families of Philadelphia. The main body followed, under 
Washington's immediate command. 

The Quaker road was a complete roundabout, joining the 
main road about two miles from Princeton, where Washing- 
ton expected to arrive before daybreak. The road, however, 
was new and rugged ; cut through woods where the stumps 
of trees broke the wheels of some of the baggage trains, and 
retarded the march of the troops; so that it was near sunrise 
of a bright, frosty morning when Washington reached the 
bridge over Stony Brook, about three miles from Princeton. 
After crossing the bridge, he led his troops along the bank of 
the brook to the edge of a wood, where a by-road led off on 
the right through low grounds, and was said by the guides 
to be a short cut to Princeton, and less exposed to view. By 
this road Washington defiled with the main body, ordering 
Mercer to continue along the brook with his brigade, until 
he should arrive at the main road, where he was to secure, 
and, if possible, destroy a bridge over which it passes ; so as 
to intercept any fugitives from Princeton, and check any 
retrograde movements of the British troops which might 
have advanced toward Trenton. 

Hitherto the movements of the Americans had been un- 
discovered by the enemy. Three regiments of the latter, the 
17th, 40th, and 55th, with three troops of dragoons, had been 
quartered all night in Princeton, under marching orders to 
join Lord Cornwallis in the morning. The 17th regiment, 
under Colonel Mawhood, was already on the march; the 
55th regiment was preparing to follow. Mawhood had 
crossed the bridge by which the old or main road to Tren- 
ton passes over Stony Brook, and was proceeding through a 
wood beyond, when, as he attained the summit of a hill 

Clfe of U/asl^ip^tOQ 343 

about sunrise, the glittering of arms betrayed to him the 
movement of Mercer's troops to the left, who were filing 
along the Quaker road to secure the bridge, as they had 
been ordered. 

The woods prevented him from seeing their number. He 
supposed them to be some broken portion of the American 
army flying before Lord Cornwallis. With this idea, he 
faced about, and made a retrograde movement, to intercept 
them or hold them in check ; while messengers spurred off 
in all speed to hasten forward the regiments still lingering at 
Princeton, so as completely to surround them. 

The woods concealed him until he had recrossed the bridge 
of Stony Brook, when he came in full sight of the van of 
Mercer's brigade. Both parties pushed to get possession of 
a rising ground on the right near the house of a Mr. Clark, 
of the peaceful Society of Friends. The Americans being 
nearest, reached it first, and formed behind a hedge fence 
which extended along a slope in front of the house ; whence, 
being chiefly armed with rifles, they opened a destructive 
fire. It was returned with great spirit by the enemy. At 
the first discharge Mercer was dismounted, **his gallant 
gray," being crippled by a musket-ball in the leg. One of 
his colonels, also, was mortally wounded, and carried to the 
rear. Availing themselves of the confusion thus occasioned, 
the British charged with the bayonet ; the American riflemen 
having no weapon of the kind were thrown into disorder 
and retreated. Mercer, who was on foot, endeavored to 
rally them, when a blow from the butt-end of a musket 
felled him to the ground. He rose and defended himself 
with his sword, but was surrounded, bayoneted repeatedly, 
and left for dead. 

Mawhood pursued the broken and retreating troops to 

344 U/or^s of U/asI^io^tor) Irufp^j 

the brow of the rising ground, on which Clark's house was 
situated, when he beheld a large force emerging from a 
wood and advancing to the rescue. It was a body of Penn- 
sylvania militia, which Washington, on hearing the firing, 
had detached to the support of Mercer. Mawhood instantly 
ceased pursuit, drew up his artillery, and by a heavy dis- 
charge brought the militia to a stand. At this moment 
"Washington himself arrived at the scene of action, having 
galloped from the by-road in advance of his troops. From 
a rising ground he beheld Mercer's troops retreating in con- 
fusion, and the detachment of militia checked by Mawhood 's 
artillery. Everything was at peril. Putting spurs to his 
horse, he dashed past the hesitating militia, waving his hat 
and cheering them on. His commanding figure and white 
horse made him a conspicuous object for the enemy's marks- 
men ; but he heeded it not. Galloping forward under the 
fire of Mawhood 's battery, he called upon Mercer's broken 
brigade. The Pennsylvanians rallied at the sound of his 
voice and caught fire from his example. At the same time 
the 7th Virginia regiment emerged from the wood, and 
moved forward with loud cheers, while a fire of grapeshot 
was opened by Captain Moulder of the American artillery 
from the brow of a ridge to the south. 

Colonel Mawhood, who a moment before had thought his 
triumph secure, found himself assailed on every side, and 
separated from the other British regiments. He fought, 
however, with great bravery, and for a time the action was 
desperate. Washington was in the midst of it ; equally en- 
dangered by the random fire of his own men and the artil- 
lery and musketry of the enemy. His aid-de-camp, Colonel 
Fitzgerald, a young and ardent Irishman, losing sight of 
him in the heat of the fight when enveloped in dust and 

Cife of U/a8l?ip^toi> 345 

smoke, dropped the bridle on the neck of his horse and drew 
his hat over his eyes ; giving him up for lost. When he saw 
him, however, emerge from the cloud, waving his hat, and 
beheld the enemy giving way, he spurred up to his side. 
*' Thank God, '* cried he, "your Excellency is safe !" *' Away, 
my dear colonel, and bring up the troops," was the reply; 
*'the day is our own!" It was one of those occasions in 
which the latent fire of Washington's character blazed forth. 

Mawhood, by this time, had forced his way, at the point 
of the bayonet, through gathering foes, though with heavy 
loss, back to the main road, and was in full retreat toward 
Trenton to join Cornwallis. Washington detached Major 
Kelly with a party of Pennsylvania troops to destroy the 
bridge at Stony Brook, over which Mawhood had retreated, 
so as to impede the advance of General Leslie from Maiden 

In the meantime the 55th regiment, which had been on 
the left and nearer Princeton, had been encountered by the 
American advance guard under General St. Clair, and after 
some sharp fighting in a ravine had given way, and was re- 
treating across fields and along a by-road to Brunswick. 
The remaining regiment, the 40th, had not been able to 
come up in time for the action; a part of it fled toward 
Brunswick ; the residue took refuge in the college at Prince- 
ton, recently occupied by them as barracks. Artillery was 
now brought to bear on the college, and a few shot com- 
pelled those within to surrender. 

In this brief but brilliant action about one hundred of the 
British were left dead on the field, and nearly three hundred 
taken prisoners, fourteen of whom were officers. Among 
the slain was Captain Leslie, son of the Earl of Leven. His 
death was greatly lamented by his captured companions. 

346 U/or^s of lI/asl7iQ($toi7 Iruip<^ 

The loss of the Americans was about twenty-five or thirty 
men, and several officers. Among the latter was Colonel 
Haslet, who had distinguished himself throughout the cam- 
paign by being among the foremost in services of danger. 
He was indeed a gallant officer, and gallantly seconded by 
his Delaware troops. 

A greater loss was that of General Mercer. He was said 
to be either dead or dying in the house of Mr. Clark, whither 
he had been conveyed by his aid-de-camp, Major Armstrong, 
who found him, after the retreat of Mawhood's troops, lying 
on the field gashed with several wounds, and insensible from 
cold and loss of blood. Washington would have ridden back 
from Princeton to visit him, and have him conveyed to a 
place of greater security; but was assured that, if alive, he 
was too desperately wounded to bear removal; in the mean- 
time he was in good hands, being faithfully attended to by 
his aid-de-camp, Major Armstrong, and treated with the 
utmost care and kindness by Mr. Clark's family.* 

Under these circumstances, "Washington felt com^pelled 
to leave his old companion in arms to his fatOo Indeed, he 
was called away by the exigencies of his command, having 
to pursue the routed regiments, which were making a head- 
long retreat to Brunswick. In this pursuit he took the lead 
at the head of a detachment of cavalry. At Kingston, how- 
ever, three miles to the northeast of Princeton, he pulled up, 
restrained his ardor, and held a council of war on horseback. 
Should he keep on to Brunswick or not? The capture of the 
British stores and baggage would make his triumph com- 
plete; but, on the other hand, his troops were excessively 
fatigued by their rapid march all night and hard fight 

* See Washington to Col. Reed, Jan. 15, 

Cife of U/a8l7ii7($toi> 64:7 

in the morning. All of them had been one night without 
sleep, and some of them two, and many were half -starved. 
They were without blankets, thinly clad, some of them bare- 
footed, and this in freezing weather. Cornwallis would be 
upon them before they could reach Brunswick. His rear- 
guard, under General Leslie, had been quartered but six 
miles from Princeton, and the retreating troops must have 
roused them. Under these considerations, it was determined 
to discontinue the pursuit, and push for Morristown. There 
they would be in a mountainous country, heavily wooded, 
in an abundant neighborhood, and on the flank of the enemy, 
with various defiles by which they might change their posi- 
tion according to his movements. 

Filing off to the left, therefore, from Kingston, and 
breaking down the bridges behind him, Washington took 
the narrow road by Rocky Hill to Pluckamin. His troops 
were so exhausted that many in the course of the march 
would lie down in the woods on the frozen ground and fall 
asleep, and were with difficulty roused and cheered forward. 
At Pluckamin he halted for a time, to allow them a little 
repose and refreshment. While they are taking breath, we 
will cast our eyes back to the camp of Cornwallis, to see 
what was the effect upon him of this masterly movement 
of Washington. 

His lordship had retired to rest at Trenton with his sports- 
man's vaunt that he would ''bag the fox in the morning." 
Nothing could surpass his surprise and chagrin when at day- 
break the expiring watchfires and deserted camp of the 
Americans told him that the prize had once more evaded his 
grasp; that the general whose military skill he had decried 
had outgeneraled him. 

For a time he could not learn whither the army, which 

348 U/orl^s of U/asI?ir>($toi) IruiQ^ 

had stolen away so silently, had directed its stealthy marcho 
By sunrise, however, there was the booming of cannon, like 
the rumbling of distant thunder, in the direction of Prince- 
ton. The idea flashed upon him that Washington had not 
merely escaped, but was about to make a dash at the British 
magazines at Brunswick. Alarmed for the safety of hi" 
military stores, his lordship forthwith broke up his camp and 
made a rapid march toward Princeton. As he arrived m 
sight of the bridge over Stony Brook he beheld Major Kelly 
and his party busy in its destruction. A distant discharge 
of round shot from his field-pieces drove them away, but the 
bridge was already broken. It would take time to repair it 
for the passage of the artillery ; so Cornwallis in his impa= 
tience urged his troops breast-high through the turbulent and 
icy stream, and again pushed forward. He was brought to 
a stand by the discharge of a thirty-two pounder from a 
distant breastwork. Supposing the Americans to be there 
in force, and prepared to make resistance, he sent out some 
horsemen to reconnoiter, and advanced to storm the battery. 
There was no one there. The thirty- two pounder had been 
left behind by the Americans as too unwieldy, and a match 
had been appUed to it by some lingerer of Washington's rear- 

Without further delay Cornwallis hurried forward, eager 
to save his magazines. Crossing the bridge at KingGtonj he 
kept on along the Brunswick road, supposing Washington 
still before him. The latter had got far in the advance duj^- 
ing the delays caused by the broken bridge at Stony Brook, 
and the discharge of the thirty- two pounder , and the altera° 
tion of his course at Kingston had carried him completely 
out of the way of Cornwallis. His lordship reached Bnins- 
wick toward evening, and endeavored to console himaelf, l,y 

Cife of U/asI^iQ^top 349 

the safety of the military stores, for being so completely foiled 
and out-maneuvered. 

Washington, in the meantime, was all on the alert; the 
lion part of his nature was aroused; and while his weary 
troops were in a manner panting upon the ground around 
him he was dispatching missives, and calling out 'aid to 
enable him to follow up his successes. In a letter to Put- 
nam, written from Pluckamin during the halt, he says: "The 
enemy appear to be panic-struck. I am in hopes of driving 
them out of the Jerseys. March the troops under your com- 
mand to Crosswicks, and keep a strict watch upon the enemy 
in this quarter. Keep as many spies out as you think proper. 
A number of horsemen in the dress of the coimtry must be 
kept constantly going backward and forward for this pur- 
pose. If you discover any motion of the enemy of conse- 
quence, let me be informed thereof as soon as possible by 

To General Heath, also, who was stationed in the High- 
lands of the Hudson, he wrote at the same hurried moment. 
**The enemy are in great consternation ; and as the panic 
affords us a favorable opportunity to drive them out of the 
Jerseys, it has been determined in council that you should 
move down toward New York with a considerable force, as 
if you had a design upon the city. That being an object 
of great importa,nce, the enemy will be reduced to the neces- 
sity of withdrawing a considerable part of their force from 
the Jerseys, if not the whole, to secure the city." 

These letters dispatched, he continued forward to Morris- 
town, where at length he came to a halt from his incessant 
and harassing marchings. There he learned that General 
Mercer was still alive. He immediately sent his own nephew, 
Major George Lewis, under the protection of a flag, to 

350 U/ork^s of U/a8l?ip^tor> IruiQ^ 

attend upon him. Mercer had indeed been kindly nursed 
by a daughter of Mr. Clark and a negro woman, who had 
not been frightened from their home by the storm of battle 
which raged round it. At the time that the troops of Corn- 
wallis approached, Major Armstrong was binding up Mercer's 
wounds. The latter insisted on his leaving him in the kind 
hands of Mr. Clark's household, and rejoining the arm3\ 
Lewis found him languishing in great pain; he had been 
treated with respect by the enemy, and great tenderness by 
the benevolent family who had sheltered him. He expired 
in the arms of Major Lewis on the 12th of January, in 
the fifty-sixth year of his age. Dr. Benjamin Rush, after- 
ward celebrated as a physician, was with him when he 

He was upright, intelUgent, and brave; esteemed as a 
soldier and beloved as a man, and by none more so than by 
"Washington. His career as a general had been brief; but 
long enough to secure him a lasting renown. His name 
remains one of the consecrated names of the Revolution. 

From Morristown, Washington again wrote to General 
Heath, repeating his former orders. To Major-general Lin- 
coln, also, who was just arrived at Peekskill, and had com- 
mand of the Massachusetts militia, he writes on the 7th: 
** General Heath will communicate mine of this date to you, 
by which you will find that the greater part of your troops 
are to move down toward New York, to draw the attention 
of the enemy to that quarter; and if they do not throw a 
considerable body back again, you may, in all probability, 
carry the city, or at least blockade them in it. . , . Be as 
expeditious as possible in moving forward, for the sooner a 
panic-struck enemy is followed the better. If we can oblige 
them to evacuate the Jerseys, we must drive them to the 

Cife of WasI^Ip^toi^ 351 

utmost distress; for they have depended upon the supplies 
from that State for their winter's support." 

Colonel Reed was ordered to send out rangers and bodies 
of militia to scour the country, waylay foraging parties, cut 
off supplies, and keep the cantonments of the enemy in a 
state of siege. **I would not suffer a man to stir beyond 
their lines," writes "Washington, **nor suffer them to have 
the least communication with the country." 

The expedition under General Heath toward New York, 
from which much had been anticipated by "Washington, 
proved a failure. It moved in three divisions, by different 
routes, but all arriving nearly at the same time at the 
enemy's outposts at King's Bridge. There was some skir- 
mishing, but the great feature of the expedition was a pom- 
pous and peremptory summons of Fort Independence to sur- 
render. "Twenty minutes only can be allowed, " said Heath, 
**for the garrison to give their answer, and, should it be in 
the negative, they must abide the consequences." The gar- 
rison made no answer but an occasional cannonade. Heath 
failed to follow up his summons by corresponding deeds. He 
hovered and skirmished for some days about the outposts 
and Spyt den Duivel Creek, and then retired before a 
threatened snowstorm and the report of an enemy's fleet 
from Rhode Island, with troops under Lord Percy, who 
might land in "Westchester and take the besieging force 
in rear. 

Washington, while he spoke of Heath's failure with in- 
dulgence in his dispatches to government, could not but give 
him a rebuke in a private letter. "Your summons," writes 
he, "as you did not attempt to fulfill your threats, was not 
only idle, but farcical ; and will not fail of turning the laugh 
exceedingly upon us. These things I mention to you as a 

353 U/orl^s of U/a8F7iQ^tOQ Irair>^ 

friend, for you will perceive they have composed no part of 
my public letter." 

But though disappointed in this part of his plan, Wash- 
ington, having received re-enforcements of militia, continued, 
with his scanty army, to carry on his system of annoyance. 
The situation of Cornwallis, who, but a short time before, 
traversed the Jerseys so triumphantly, became daily more 
and more irksome. Spies were in his camp, to give notice 
of every movement, and foes without to take advantage of 
it; so that not a foraging party could sally forth without 
being waylaid. By degrees he drew in his troops which 
were posted about the country, and collected them at New 
Brunswick and Amboy, so as to have a communication by 
water with "New York, whence he was now compelled to 
draw nearly all his supplies; '* presenting,'' to use the 
words of Hamilton, "the extraordinary spectacle of a pow- 
erful army straitened within narrow limits by the phantom 
of a military force, and never permitted to transgress those 
limits with impunity." 

In fact, the recent operations in the Jerseys had suddenly 
changed the whole aspect of the war, and given a triumphant 
close to what had been a disastrous campaign. 

The troops, which for months had been driven from post 
to post, apparently an undisciplined rabble, had all at once 
turned upon their pursuers, and astounded them by brilliant 
stratagems and daring exploits. The commander, whose 
cautious policy had been sneered at by enemies and regarded 
with impatience by misjudging friends, had all at once 
shown that he possessed enterprise as well as circumspection, 
energy as well as endurance, and that beneath his wary 
coldness lurked a fire to break forth at the proper moment. 
This year's campaign, the most critical one of the war, and 

Cife of \JJzBl)\T)<^toT) 353 

especially the part of it which occurred in the Jerseys, was 
the ordeal that made his great qualities fully appreciated by 
his countrymen, and gained for him from the statesmen and 
generals of Europe the appellation of the American Fabius. 



Burke on the State of Affairs in America — New Jersey Roused to 
Arms — Washington grants Safe Conduct to Hessian Convoys — 
Encampment at Morristown — Putnam at Princeton — His Strata- 
gem to Conceal the Weakness of his Camp— Exploit of General 
Dickinson near Somerset Court-House — Washington's Counter 
Proclamation — Prevalence of the Smallpox — Inoculation of the 
Army — Contrast of the British and American Commanders and 
their Camps 

The news of "Washington's recrossing the Delaware and 
of his subsequent achievements in the Jerseys had not reached 
London on the 9th of January. **The affairs of America 
seem to be drawing to a crisis," writes Edmund Burke. 
**The Howes are at this time in possession of, or able to awe, 
the whole middle coast of America, from Delaware to the 
western boundary of Massachusetts Bay ; the naval barrier 
on the side of Canada is broken. A great tract is open for 
the supply of the troops; the River Hudson opens a way 
into the heart of the provinces, and nothing can, in all prob- 
ability, prevent an early and offensive campaign. What the 
Americans have done is, in their circumstances, truly aston- 
ishing; it is indeed infinitely more than I expected from 
them. But, having done so much for some short time, I 

354 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruii?^ 

began to entertain an opinion that they might do more. It 
is now, however, evident that they cannot look standing 
armies in the face. They are inferior in everything — even 
in numbers. There seem by the best accounts not to be 
above ten or twelve thousand men at most in their grand 
army. The rest are militia, and not wonderfully well com- 
posed or disciplined. They decline a general engagement; 
prudently enough, if their object had been to make the war 
attend upon a treaty of good terms of subjection; but when 
they look further, this will not do. An army that is obliged 
at all times, and in all situations, to decline an engagement, 
may delay their ruin, but can never defend their country.'' * 
At the time when this was written the Howes had learned, 
to their mortification, that ^'the mere running through a 
province is not subduing it." The British commanders had 
been outgeneraled, attacked, and defeated. They had nearly 
been driven out of the Jerseys, and were now hemmed in and 

held in check by Washington and his handful of men castled 
among the heights of Morristown. So far from holding pos- 
session of the territory they had so recently overrun, they 
were fain to ask safe conduct across it for a convoy to their 
soldiers captured in battle. It must have been a severe trial 
to the pride of Cornwallis when he had to inquire by letter 
of "Washington whether money and stores could be sent to 
the Hessians captured at Trenton, and a surgeon and medi- 
cines to the wounded at Princeton; and Washington's reply 
must have conveyed a reproof still more mortifying: No 
molestation, he assured his lordship, would be offered to the 
convoy by any part of the regular SLrray under his command ; 
but **/ie could not answer for the militia, who ivei^e resort' 

* Burke's Woiks, vol. v., p. 125. 

Clfe of U/a8l7iQ($tof) 355 

ing to arms in most parts of the State, and were excess- 
ively exasperated at the treatment they had met with from 
both Hessian and British troops.'^ 

In fact, the conduct of the enemy had roused the wLole 
country against them. The proclamations and printed pro- 
tections of the British commanders, on the faith of which 
the inhabitants in general had stayed at home, and forebore 
to take up arms, had proved of no avail. The Hessians 
could not or would not understand them, but plundered 
friend and foe alike.* The British soldiery often followed 
their example, and the plunderings of both were at times 
attended by those brutal outrages on the weaker sex which 
inflame the dullest spirits to revenge. The whole State was 
thus roused against its invaders. In Washington's retreat 
of more than a hundred miles through the Jerseys, he had 
never been joined by more than one hundred of its inhabi- 
tants; now sufferers of both parties rose as one man to 
avenge their personal injuries. The late quiet yeomanry 
armed themselves, and scoured the country in small parties 
to seize on stragglers, and the militia began to signalize 
themselves in voluntary skirmishes with regular troops. 

In effect, Washington ordered a safe conduct to be given 
to the Hessian baggage as far as Philadelphia, and to the 
surgeon and medicines to Princeton, and permitted a Hessian 
sergeant and twelve men, unarmed, to attend the baggage 
until it was delivered to their countrymen. 

Morristown, where the main army was encamped, had 

* "These rascals plunder all indiscriminately. If they 
see anything they like, they say, * Rebel good for Hesse- 
man's,' and seize upon it for their own use. They have no 
idea of the distinctions between Whig and Tory." — Letter 
of Hazard the Postmaster. 

356 U/or^g of U/asl^iQ^tOQ Irulo<^ 

not been chosen by Washington as a permaEent post, hm 
merely as a halting-place, where his troops might repose 
after their excessive fatigues and their sufferings from the 
inclement season. Further considerations persuaded him 
that it was well situated for the system of petty warfare 
which he meditated, and induced him to remain there. It 
was protected by forests and rugged heights. All approach 
from the seaboard was rendered difficult and dangerous to a 
hostile force by a chain of sharp hills, extending from 
Pluekamin, by Boundbrook and Springfield, to the vicinity 
of the Passaic River, while various defiles in the rear afforded 
safer retreats into a fertile and well-peopled region. * It was 
nearly equidistant from Amboy, Newark, and Brunswick, 
the principal posts of the enemy; so that any movement 
made from them could be met by a counter movement on 
his part 5 while the forays and skirmishes by which he might 
harass them would school and season his own troops. He 
had three faithful generals with him: Greene, his reliance 
on all occasions; swarthy Sullivan, whose excitable temper 
and quick sensibilities he had sometimes io keep in check by 
friendly counsels and rebukes, but who was a good officer, 
and loyally attached to him; and brave, genial, generous 
Knox, never so happy as when by his side. He had lately 
been advanced to the rank of brigadier at his recommenda- 
tion, and commanded the artillery. 

Washington's military family at this time was composed 
of his aides-de-camp, Colonels Meade and Tench Tilghman, 
of Philadelphia; gentlemen of gallant spirit, amiable tem- 
pers, and cultivated manners; and his secretary, Colonel 
Robert H. Harrison, of Maryland; the **old secretary," as 

* Wilkinson's Memoirs, vol. i., p. 149. 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($tor> 357 

he was familiarly called among his associates, and by whom 
he was described as *'one in whom every man had confi- 
dence, and by whom no man was deceived. '* 

"Washington's headquarters at first were in what was 
called the Freemason's Tavern, on the north side of the 
village green. His troops were encamped about the vicinity 
of the village, at first in tents, until they could build log 
huts for shelter against the winter's cold. The main encamp- 
ment was near Bottle Hill, in a sheltered valley, which was 
thickly wooded, and had abundant springs. It extended 
southeasterly from Morristown ; and was called the Low- 
antica Valley, from the Indian name of a beautiful limpid 
brook which ran through it, and lost itself in a great swamp. * 

The enemy being now concentrated at New Brunswick 
and Amboy, General Putnam was ordered by Washington 
to move from Crosswicks to Princeton, with the troops 
under his command. He was instructed to draw his forage 
as much as possible from the neighborhood of Brunswick, 
about eighteen miles off, thereby contributing to distress 
the enemy ; to have good scouting parties continually on the 
lookout, to keep nothing with him but what could be moved 
off at a moment's warning, and, if compelled to leave Prince- 
ton, to retreat toward the mountains, so as to form a junc- 
tion with the forces at Morristown. 

Putnam had with him but a few hundred men. "You 
will give out your strength to be twice as great as it is," 
writes Washington; a common expedient with him in those 
times of scanty means. Putnam acted up to the advice. A 
British officer, Captain Macpherson, was lying desperately 
wounded at Princeton, and Putnam, in the kindness of his 

* Notes of the Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle.— MS. 

358 U/or^s of U/a8f?ir>^tor> Iruir)($ 

heart, was induced to send in a flag to Brunswick in quest 
of a friend and military comrade of the djnng man, to attend 
him in his last moments and make his will. To prevent the 
weakness of the garrison from being discovered, the visitor 
was brought in after dark. Lights gleamed in all the college 
windows, and in the vacant houses about the town; the 
handful of troops capable of duty were marched hither and 
thither, and backward and forward, and paraded about to 
such effect that the visitor, on his return to the British 
camp, reported the force under the old general to be at least 
five thousand strong,* 

Cantonments were gradually formed between Princeton 
and the Highlands of the Hudson, which made the left flank 
of Washington's position, and where General Heath had 
command. General Philemon Dickinson, who commanded 
the New Jersey militia, was stationed on the west side of 
Millstone River, near Somerset court-house, one of the near- 
est posts to the enemy's camp at Brunswick. A British 
foraging party, of five or six hundred strong, sent out by 
Cornwallis with forty wagons and upward of one hundred 
draught horses, mostly of the English breed, having col- 
lected sheep and cattle about the country, were sacking a 
mill on the opposite side of the river, where a large quantity 
of flour was deposited. While thus employed, Dickinson set 
upon them with a force equal in number, but composed of 
raw militia and fifty Philadelphia riflemen. He dashed 
through the river, waist deep, with his men, and charged the 
enemy so suddenly and vigorously, that, though supported 
by three field-pieces, they gave way, left their convoy, and 
retreated so precipitately that he made only nine prisoners, 

* Sparks' Am. Biography, vol. vii.j p. 196. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 359 

A number of killed and wounded were carried off by the 
fugitives on light wagons.* 

These exploits of the militia were noticed with high en- 
comiums by Washington, while, at the same time, he was 
rigid in prohibiting and punishing the excesses into which 
men are apt to run when suddenly clothed with military 
power. Such is the spirit of a general order issued at this 
time. **The general prohibits, in both the militia and Con- 
tinental troops, the infamous practice of plundering the 
inhabitants under the specious pretense of their being tories. 
... It is our business to give protection and support to 
the poor distressed inhabitants, not to multiply and increase 
their calamities." After the publication of this order, all 
excesses of this kind were to be punished in the severest 

To counteract the proclamation of the British commis- 
sioners, promising amnesty to all in rebellion, who should, 
in a given time, return to their allegiance, Washington now 
issued a counter proclamation (Jan. 25), commanding every 
person who had subscribed a declaration of fidelity to Great 
Britain, or taken an oath of allegiance, to repair within thirty 
days to headquarters, or the quarters of the nearest general 
officer of the Continental army or of the militia, and there take 
the oath of allegiance to the United States of America, and 
give up any protection, certificate, or passport he might have 
received from the enemy ; at the same time granting full lib- 
erty to all such as preferred the interest and protection of Great 
Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country, forth- 
with to withdraw themselves and families within the enemy's 

* Washington to the President of Congress. Also note 
to Sparks, vol. iv., p. 290. 

360 U/orKs of U/asf^ip^tor) IruiQ^ 

lines. All who should neglect or refuse to comply lyith this 
order were to be considered adherents to the crown, and 
treated as common enemies. 

This measure met with objections at the time, some of the 
timid or overcautious thinking it inexpedient ; others, jealous 
of the extraordinary powers vested in Washington, ques- 
tioning whether he had not transcended these powers, and 
exercised a despotism. 

The smallpox, which had been fatally prevalent in the 
preceding year, had again broken out, and Washington 
feared it might spread through the whole army. He took 
advantage of the interval of comparative quiet to have his 
troops inoculated. Houses were set apart in various places 
as hospitals for inoculation, and a church was appropriated 
for the use of those who had taken the malady in the natural 
way. Among these the ravages were frightful. The tradi- 
tions of the place and neighborhood give lamentable pictures 
of distress caused by this loathsome disease in the camp 
and in the villages, wherever it had not been parried by 

** Washington," we are told, *'was not an unmoved spec- 
tator of the griefs around him, and might be seen in Hanover 
and in Lowantica Valley, cheering the faith and inspiring 
the courage of his suffering men."* It was this paternal 
care and sympathy which attached his troops personally to 
him. They saw that he regarded them, not with the eye 
of a general, but of a patriot, whose heart yearned toward 
them as countrymen suffering in one common cause. 

A striking contrast was offered throughout the winter and 
spring, between the rival commanders, Howe at "New York, 

* Notes of the Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle.— MS. 

Cite of U/a8l?ii7<$toi> 361 

and "Washington at Morristown. Howe was a soldier by 
profession. War, with him, was a career. The camp was, 
for the time, country and home. Easy and indolent by 
nature, of convivial and luxurious habits, and somewhat 
addicted to gaming, he found himself in good quarters at 
New York, and was in no hurry to leave them. 

The tories rallied around him, and the British merchants 
residing there regarded him with profound devotion. His 
officers, too, many of them young men of rank and fortune, 
gave a gayety and brilliancy to the place; and the wealthy 
royalists forgot, in a round of dinners, balls, and assemblies, 
the hysterical alarms they had once experienced under the 
military sway of Lee. 

Washington, on the contrary, was a patriot soldier, grave, 
earnest, thoughtful, self-sacrificing. War, to him, was a 
painful remedy, hateful in itself, but adopted for a great 
national good. To the prosecution of it all his pleasures, his 
comforts, his natural inclinations and private interests were 
sacrificed ; and his chosen officers were earnest and anxious 
like himself, with their whole thoughts directed to the suc- 
cess of the magnanimous struggle in which they were en- 

So, too, the armies were contrasted. The British troops, 
many of them, perchance, slightly metamorphosed from 
vagabonds into soldiers, all mere men of the sword, were 
well clad, well housed, and surrounded by all the conven- 
iences of a thoroughly appointed army with a "rebel country" 
to forage. The American troops for the most part were mere 
yeomanry, taken from their rural homes; ill sheltered, ill 
clad, ill fed, and ill paid; with nothing to reconcile them to 
their hardships but love for the soil they were defending, 

and the inspiring thought that it was their country, Wash- 
VoL. XIII.—* * * 16 

363 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

ington, with paternal care, endeavored to protect them from 
the depraving influences of the camp. ''Let vice and im- 
morality of every kind be discouraged as much as possible 
in your brigade," writes he in a circular to his brigadier- 
generals; "and, as a chaplain is allowed to each regiment, 
see that the men regularly attend divine worship. Gaming 
of every kind is expressly forbidden, as being the foundation 
of evil, and the cause of many a brave and gallant officer's 


Negotiations for Exchange of Prisoners — Case of Colonel Ethan 
Allen — Of General Lee — Correspondence of Washington with 
Sir William Howe about Exchanges of Prisoners — Referees ap- 
pointed — Letters of Lee from New York— Case of Colonel Camp- 
bell — Washington's Advice to Congress on the Subject of Re- 
taliation — His Correspondence with Lord Howe about the 
Treatment of Prisoners— The Horrors of the Jersey Prison- 
Ship and the Sugar House 

A CARTEL for the exchange of prisoners had been a sub- 
ject of negotiation previous to the affair of Trenton, with- 
out being adjusted. The British commanders were slow 
to recognize the claims to equality of those they considered 
rebels; "Washington was tenacious in holding them up as 
patriots ennobled by their cause. 

Among the cases which came up for attention was that 
of Ethan Allen, the brave, but eccentric captor of Ticon- 
deroga. His daring attempts in the '*path of renown'' had 
cost him a world of hardships. Thrown into irons as a felon ; 
threatened with a halter; carried to England to be tried for 
treason; confined in Pendennis Castle; re-transported to 
Halifax, and now a prisoner in N"ew York. **I have suffered 
everything short of death," writes he to the Assembly of his 

Cife of U/a8l7!r)<$tor7 363 

native State, Connecticut. He had, however, recovered 
health and suppleness of limb, and with them all his swell- 
ing spirit and swelling rhetoric. **I am fired," writes he, 
"with adequate indignation to revenge both my own and 
my country's wrongs. I am experimentally certain I have 
fortitude sufficient to face the invaders of America in the 
place of danger, spread with b,11 the horrors of war." And 
he concludes with one of his magniloquent, but really sincere 
expressions of patriotism: ''Provided you can hit upon some 
measure to procure my liberty, I will appropriate my remain- 
ing days, and freely hazard my life in the service of the 
colony, and maintaining the American Empire. I thought 
to have enrolled my name in the list of illustrious American 
heroes, but was nipped in the bud." 

Honest Ethan Allen! his name will ever stand enrolled 
on that list; not illustrious, perhaps, but eminently popular. 

His appeal to his native State had produced an appeal 
to Congress, and Washington had been instructed, consider- 
ing his long imprisonment, to urge his exchange. This had 
scarce been urged when tidings of the capture of General 
Lee presented a case of still greater importance to be pro- 
vided for. *'I feel much for his misfortune,** writes Wash- 
ington, "and am sensible that in his captivity our country 
has lost a warm friend and an able officer.'* By direction 
of Congress, he had sent in a flag to inquire about Lee's 
treatment, and to convey him a sum of money. This was 
just previous to the second crossing of the Delaware. 

Lee was now reported to be in rigorous confinement in 
New York, and treated with harshness and indignity. The 
British professed to consider him a deserter, he having been 
a lieutenant-colonel in their service, although he alleged that 
he had resigned his commission before joining the American 

864 U/or^s of U/a8l?lp^tor> /ruiQ^ 

army. Two letters which he addressed to General Howe 
were returned to him miopened, inclosed in a cover directed 
to Lieutenant-colonel Lee, 

On the 13th of January, Washington addressed the fol- 
lowing letter to Sir William Howe: "I am directed by Con- 
gress to propose an exchange of five of the Hessian field- 
officers taken at Trenton for Major-general Lee; or, if this 
proposal should not be accepted, to demand his hberty upon 
parole, within certain bounds, as has ever been granted to 
your officers in our custody. I am informed, upon good 
authority, that your reason for keeping him hitherto in 
stricter confinement than usual is, that you do not look upon 
him in the light of a common prisoner of war, but as a 
deserter from the British service, as his resignation has 
never been accepted, and that you intend to try him as such 
by a court-martial. I will not imdertake to determine how 
far this doctrine may be justifiable among yourselves ; but 
I must give you warning, that Major-general Lee is looked 
upon as an officer belonging to, and under the protection of, 
the United Independent States of America, and that any 
violence you may commit upon his life and liberty will be 
severely retaliated upon the lives or liberties of the British 
officers, or those of their foreign allies in our hands." 

In this letter he likewise adverted to the treatment of 
American prisoners in New York; several who had recently 
been released having given the most shocking account of 
the barbarities they had experienced, ** which their miser- 
able, emaciated countenances confirmed." — **I would beg," 
added he, *'that some certain rule of conduct toward prison- 
ers may be settled ; and, if you are determined to make cap- 
tivity as distressing as possible, let me know it, that we may 
be upon equal terms, for your ccmduct shall regulate mine. 


Cife of U/aslpiQ^toQ 365 

Sir William, in reply, proposed to send an officer of rank 
to Washington, to confer upon a mode of exchange and sub- 
sistence of prisoners. **This expedient," observes he, '* ap- 
pearing to me effectual for settling all differences, will, I 
hope, be the means of preventing a repetition of the improper 
terms in which your letter is expressed and founded on the 
grossest misrepresentations. I shall not make any further 
comment upon it than to assure you that your threats of re- 
taliating upon the innocent such punishment as may be de- 
creed in the circumstances of Mr. Lee by the laws of his 
country will not divert me from my duty in any respect; at 
the same time, you may rest satisfied that the proceedings 
against him will not be precipitated; and I trust that, in 
this, or in any other event in the course of my command, 
you will not have just cause to accuse me of inhumanity, 
prejudice, or passion." 

Sir William, in truth, was greatly perplexed with respect 
to Lee, and had written to England to Lord George Ger- 
maine for instructions in the case. "General Lee," writes 
he, ** being considered in the light of a deserter, is kept a 
close prisoner; but I do not bring him to trial, as a doubt 
has arisen whether, by a public resignation of his half pay 
prior to his entry into the rebel army, he was amenable to 
the military law as a deserter." 

The proposal of Sir William, that all disputed points rela- 
tive to the exchange and subsistence of prisoners should be 
adjusted by referees, led to the appointment of two officers 
for the purpose; Colonel Walcott by General Howe, and 
Colonel Harrison, "the old secretary," by Washington, In 
the contemplated exchanges was that of one of the Hessian 
field-officers for Colonel Ethan Allen. 

The haughty spirit of Lee had experienced a severe hu- 

SQQ U/orl^s of U/a8l?iQ($toi> Injii?<5 

miliation in the late catastrophe; his pungent and caustic 
humor is at an end. In a letter addressed shortly afterward 
to Washington, and inclosing one to Congress which Lord 
and General Howe had permitted him to send, he writes, 
*'as the contents are of the last importance to me, and per- 
haps not less so to the community, I must earnestly entreat, 
my dear general, that you dispatch it immediately, and order 
the Congress to be as expeditious as possible." 

The letter contained a request that two or three gentle- 
men might be sent immediately to New York, to whom he 
would communicate what he conceived to be of the greatest 
importance. "If my own interest were alone at stake,'* 
writes he, "I flatter myself that the Congress would not 
hesitate a single instant in acquiescing in my request ; but 
this is far from the case; the interests of the public are 
equally concerned. . . . Lord and General Howe will 
grant a safe conduct to the gentlemen deputed.'* 

The letter having been read in Congress, Washington 
was directed to inform General Lee that they were pursuing 
and would continue to pursue every means in their power 
to provide for his personal safety, and to obtain his liberty ; 
but that they considered it improper to send any of their 
body to communicate with him, and could not perceive how 
it would tend to his advantage or the interest of the public. 

Lee repeated his request, but with no better success. He 
felt this refusal deeply ; as a brief, sad note to Washington 

*'It is a most unfortunate circumstance for myself, and 
I think not less so for the public, that Congress have not 
thought proper to comply with my request. It could not 
possibly have been attended with any ill consequences, and 

Cife of U/a8l?ir>($tor> 367 

might with good ones. At least it was an indulgence which 
I thought my situation entitled me to. But I am unfortu- 
nate in everything, and this stroke is the severest I have yet 
experienced. God send you a different fate. Adieu, my 
dear general. 

** Yours most truly and affectionately, 

"Charles Lee." 

How different from the humorous, satirical, self-confident 
tone of his former letters. Yet Lee's actual treatment was 
not so harsh as had been represented. He was in close con- 
finement, it is true ; but three rooms had been fitted up for 
his reception in the Old City Hall of New York, having 
nothing of the look of a prison, excepting that they were 
secured by bolts and bars. 

Congress, in the meantime, had resorted to their threat- 
ened measure of retaliation. On the 29th of February they 
had resolved that the Board of War be directed immediately 
to order the five Hessian field-officers and Lieutenant-colonel 
Campbell into safe and close custody, *'it being the unalter- 
able resolution of Congress to retaliate on them the same 
punishment as may be inflicted on the person of General 

The Colonel Campbell here mentioned had commanded 
one of General Fraser's battalions of Highlanders, and had 
been captured on board of a transport in Nantasket road, in 
the preceding summer. He was a member of Parliament, 
and a gentleman of fortune. Retaliation was carried to ex- 
cess in regard to him, for he was thrown into the common 
jail at Concord in Massachusetts. 

From his prison he made an appeal to Washington, which 
at once touched his quick sense of justice. He immediately 

368 U/or^s of U/asI^iQ^tor) Irufp^ 

wrote to the council of Massachusetts Bay, quoting the words 
of the resolution of Congress. *'By this you will observe," 
adds he, *Hhat exactly the same ti^eatment is to be shown to 
Colonel Campbell and the Hessian officers that General How9 
shows to General Lee, and as he is only confined to a com- 
modious house with genteel accommodations, we have no 
right or reason to be more severe on Colonel Campbell, who 
I would wish should upon the receipt of this be removed from 
his present situation, and be put into a house where he may 
live comfortably." 

In a letter to the President of Congress on the following 
day, he gives his moderating counsels on the whole subject 
of retaliation. "Though I sincerely commiserate," writes he, 
**the misfortunes of General Lee, and feel much for hie pres- 
ent unhappy situation, yet with all possible deference to the 
opinion of Congress, I fear that these resolutions will not 
have the desired effect, are founded in impolicy, and will, if 
adhered to, produce consequences of an extensive and mel- 
ancholy nature." . . . 

**The balance of prisoners is greatly against us, and a 
general regard to the happiness of the whole should mark 
our conduct. Can we imagine that our enemies will not 
mete the same punishments, the same indignities, the same 
cruelties, to those belonging to us, in their possession, that 
we impose on theirs in our power? "Why should we suppose 
them to possess more humanity than we have ourselves? Or 
why should an ineffectual attempt to relieve the distresses 
of one brave, unfortunate man, involve many more in the 
same calamities? . . . Suppose," continues he, *'the treat- 
ment prescribed for the Hessians should be pursued, will it 
not establish what the enemy have been aiming to effect by 
every artifice and the grossest misrepresentations— I mean 

Cife of U/asl^ip^toQ 369 

an opinion of our enmity toward them, and of the cruel 
treatment they experience when they fail into our hands, a 
prejudice which we on our part have heretofore thought it 
politic to suppress, and to root out by every act of lenity 
and of kindness?'' 

**Many more objections," added he, ''might be subjoined, 
were they material. I shall only observe that the present 
state of the army, if it deserves that name, will not author^ 
ize the language of retaliation or the style of menace. This 
will be conceded by all who know that the whole of our force 
is weak and trifling, and composed of militia (a very few 
regular troops excepted) whose service is on the eve of 

In a letter to Mr. Robert Morris, also, he writes: "I wish, 
with all my heart, that Congress had gratified General Lee 
in his request. If not too late, I wish they would do it stilL 
I can see no possible evil that can result from it ; some good, 
I think, might. The request to see a gentleman or two came 
from the general^ not from the commissioners; there could 
have been no harm, therefore, in hearing what he had to say 
on any subject, especially as he had declared that his own 
personal interest was deeply concerned. The resolve to put 
in close confinement Lieutenant-colonel Campbell and the 
Hessian field-officers, in order to retaliate upon them General 
Lee's punishment, is, in my opinion, injurious in every point 
of view, and must have been entered into without due atten- 
tion to the consequences. ... If the resolve of Congress 
respecting General Lee strikes you in the same point of view 
it has done me, I could wish you would signify as much to 
that body, as I really think it fraught with every evil." 

"Washington was not always successful in instilling his 
wise moderation into public councils. Congress adhered to 

570 U/orl^s of U/a8l7ir)<$toi> lruii7($ 

their vindictive policy, merely directing that no other hare 
ships should be inflicted on the captive officers than such con- 
finement as was necessary to carry their resolve into effect. 
As to their refusal to grant the request of Lee, Robert Morris 
surmised they were fearful of the Injurious effect that might 
be produced in the court of France, should it be reported that 
members of Congress visited General Lee by permission of 
the British commissioners. There were other circumstances 
besides the treatment of General Lee to produce this indig- 
nant sensibility on the part of Congress. Accounts were rife 
at this juncture of the cruelties and indignities almost invari- 
ably experienced by American prisoners at New York ; and 
an active correspondence on the subject was going on be- 
tween Washington and the British commanders, at the same 
time with that regarding General Lee. 

The captive Americans who had been in the naval ser- 
vice were said to be confined, officers and men, in prison- 
ships, which, for their loathsome condition, and the horrors 
and sufferings of all kinds experienced on board of them, had 
acquired the appellation of floating hells. Those who had 
been in the land service were crowded into jails and dun- 
geons like the vilest malefactors; and were represented as 
pining in cold, in filth, in hunger, and nakedness. 

**Our poor devoted soldiers," writes an eye-witness, '*were 
scandly supplied with provisions of bad quality, wretchedly 
clothed, and destitute of sufficient fuel, if indeed they had 
any. Disease was the inevitable consequence, and their 
prisons soon became hospitals. A fatal malady was gen- 
erated, and the mortality, to every heart not steeled by the 
spirit of party, was truly deplorable." * f^ccording to popu- 

* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 232. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip^toi) 371 

lar account, the prisoners confined on shipboard, and on 
shore, were perishing by hundreds. 

A statement made by Captain Gamble, recently confined 
on board of a prison-ship, had especially roused the ire of 
Congress, and by their directions had produced a letter from 
Washington to Lord Howe. "I am sorry," writes he, *Hhat 
I am under the disagreeable necessity of troubling your lord- 
ship with a letter, almost wholly on the subject of the cruel 
treatment which our officers and men in the naval depart- 
ment, who are unhappy enough to fall into your hands, re- 
ceive on board the prison-ships in the harbor of New York." 
After specifying the case of Captain Gamble, and adding a 
few particulars, he proceeds: *'From the opinion I have ever 
been taught to entertain of your lordship's humanity, I will 
not suppose that you are privy to proceedings of so cruel and 
unjustifiable a nature; and I hope that, upon making the 
proper inquiry, you will have the matter so regulated that 
the unhappy persons whose lot is captivity may not in future 
have the miseries of cold, disease, and famine added to their 
other misfortunes. You may call us rebels, and say that we 
deserve no better treatment; but remember, my lord, that, 
supposing us rebels, we still have feelings as keen and sen- 
sible as loyalists, and will, if forced to it, most assuredly re- 
tahate upon those upon whom we look as the unjust invaders 

of our rights, liberties, and properties. I should not have 
said thus much, but my injured countrymen have long called 
upon me to endeavor to obtain a redress of their grievances, 
and I should think myself as culpable as those who inflict 
such severities upon them, were I to continue silent," etc. 

Lord Howe, in reply (Jan. 17), expresses himself sur- 
prised at the matter and language of Washington's letter, 
**so different from the Hberal vein of sentiment he had been 

a72 U/orl^s of U/asl^lo^too IruiQ^ 

habituated to expect on every occasion of personal intercourse 
or correspondence with him." He was surprised, too, that 
**the idle and unnatural report" of Captain Gamble, respect- 
ing the dead and dying, and the neglect of precautious 
against infection, should meet with any credit. '* Attention 
to preserve the lives of these men," writes he, '*whom we 
esteem the misled subjects of the king, is a duty as binding 
on us where we are able from circumstances to execute it 
with effect, as any you can plead for the interest you profess 
in their welfare." 

He denied that prisoners were ill-treated in his particular 
department (the naval). They had been allowed the general 
liberty of the prison-ship, until a successful attempt of some 
to escape had rendered it necessary to restrain the rest within 
such limits as left the commanding parts of the ship in pos- 
session of the guard. They had the same provisions in qual- 
ity and quantity that were furnished to the seamen of his 
own ship. The want of cleanliness was the result of their 
own indolence and neglect. In regard to health, they had 
the constant attendance of an American surgeon, a fellow 
prisoner; who was furnished with medicines from the king's 
stores; and the visits of the physician of the fleet. 

**As I abhor every imputation of wanton cruelty in mul- 
tiphang the miseries of the wretched," observes his lordship, 
**or of treating them with needless severity, I have taken 
the trouble to state these several facts." 

In regard to the hint of retaliation, he leaves it to Wash- 
ington to act therein as he should think fit; but adds he 
grandly, **the innocent at my disposal will not have any 
severities to apprehend from me on that account." 

We have quoted this correspondence the more freely, be- 
cause it is on a subject deeply worn into the American mind 5 

Cife of U/a8f7ir>($tor> 373 

and about which we have heard too many particulars, from 
childhood upward, from persons of unquestionable veracity, 
who suffered in the cause, to permit us to doubt about the 
fact. The Jersey Prison-ship is proverbial in our Revolu- 
tionary history ; and the bones of the unfortunate patriots 
who perished on board form a monument on the Long Island 
shore. The horrors of the Sugar House^ converted into a 
prison, are traditional in New York; and the brutal tyranny 
of Cunningham, the provost -marshal, over men of worth 
confined in the common jail for the sin of patriotism, has 
been handed down from generation to generation. 

That Lord Howe and Sir William were ignorant of the 
extent of these atrocities we really believe, but it was their 
duty to be well informed. War is, at best, a cruel trade, 
that habituates those who follow it to regard the sufferings 
of others with indifference. There is no doubt, too, that a 
feeling of contumely deprived the patriot prisoners of all 
sympathy in the early stages of the Revolution. They were 
regarded as criminals rather than captives. The stigma of 
rebels seemed to take from them all the indulgences, scanty 
and miserable as they are, usually granted to prisoners of 
war. The British ofl&cers looked down with haughty con- 
tempt upon the American officers who had fallen into their 
hands. The British soldiery treated them with insolent scur- 
rility. It seemed as if the very ties of consanguinity ren- 
dered their hostility more intolerant, for it was observed that 
American prisoners were better treated by the Hessians than 
by the British. It was not until our countrymen had mada 
themselves formidable by their successes that they were 
treated, when prisoners, with common decency and hu- 

The difficulties arising out of the case of General Lee 

874 U/orKs of U/aslpiQ^toi) IruiQ^ 

interrupted the operations with regard to the exchange of 
prisoners ; and gallant men, on both sides, suffered prolonged 
detention in consequence ; and among the number the brave, 
but ill-starred Ethan Allen. 

Lee, in the meantime, remained in confinement, until di- 
rections with regard to him should be received from govern- 
ment. Events, however, had diminished his importance in 
the eyes of the enemy; he was no longer considered the 
American Palladium. "As the capture of the Hessians and 
the maneuvers against the British took place after the sur- 
prise of General Lee," observes a London writer of the 
day, ''we find that he is not the only efficient officer in 
the American service."* 


Exertions to form a New Army — Calls on the Different States— In- 
sufficiency of the Militia — Washington's Care for the Yeomanry 
— Dangers in the Northern Department — Winter Attack on Ti- 
conderoga apprehended — Exertions to re- enforce Schuyler — Pre- 
carious State of Washington's Army — Conjectures as to the 
Designs of the Enemy — Expedition of the British against 

The early part of the year brought the annual embar- 
rassments caused by short enlistments. The brief term of 
service for which the Continental soldiery had enlisted, a few 
months perhaps, at most a year, were expiring; and the 
men, glad to be released from camp duty, were hastening to 
their rustic homes. Militia had to be the dependence, until 
the new army could be raised and organized ; and "Washing- 


Am. Archives, 5th Series, iii. 1244. 

Cife of U/a8t?ir)($too 375 

ton called on the council of safety of Pennsylvania speedily 
to furnish temporary re-enforcements of the kind. 

All his officers that could be spared were ordered away, 
some to recruit, some to collect the scattered men of the dif- 
ferent regiments, who were dispersed, he said, almost over 
the continent. General Knox was sent off to Massachusetts, 
to expedite the raising of a battalion of artillery. Different 
States were urged to levy and equip their quotas for the Con- 
tinental army. '* Nothing but the united efforts of every 
State in America," writes he, "can save us from disgrace 
and probably from ruin." 

Rhode Island is reproached with raising troops for home 
service before furnishing its supply to the general army. **If 
each State," writes he, **were to prepare for its own defense 
independent of each other, they would all be conquered, one 
by one. Our success must depend on a firm union^ and 
a strict adherence to the general plan.^^ * 

He deplores the fluctuating state of the army while de- 
pending on militia; full one day, almost disbanded the next. 
**I am much afraid that the enemy, one day or other, taking 
advantage of one of these temporary weaknesses, will make 
themselves masters of our magazines of stores, arms, and 

The militia, too, on being dismissed, were generally suf- 
fered by their officers to carry home with them the arms with 
which they had been furnished, so that the armory was in a 
manner scattered over all the world, and forever lost to the 

Then an earnest word is spoken by him in behalf of the 
yeomanry, whose welfare always lay near his heart. "You 

* Letter to Governor Cooke, Sparks, iv. 285. 

376 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^tOQ Irufp^ 

must be fully sensible," writes be, '*of the bardsbips imposed 
upon individuals, and bow detrimental it must be to the pub- 
lic to bave farmers and tradesmen frequently called out of 
tbe field, as militia men, wbereby a total stop is put to arts 
and agriculture, witbout wbicb we cannot long subsist." 

"Wbile tbus anxiously exerting bimself to strengthen bis 
own precarious army, tbe security of tbe Northern depart- 
ment was urged upon bis attention. Schuyler represented it 
as in need of re-enforcements and supplies of all kinds. He 
apprehended that Carleton might make an attack upon Ti- 
conderoga, as soon as be could cross Lake Champlain on tbe 
ice; that important fortress was under tbe command of a 
brave officer. Colonel Anthony Wayne, but its garrison bad 
dwindled down to six or seven hundred men, chiefly New 
England militia. In tbe present destitute situation of bis 
department as to troops, Schuyler feared that Carleton might 
not only succeed in an attempt on Ticonderoga, but might 
push bis way to Albany. 

He bad written in vain to the Convention of New York, 
and to the Eastern States, for re-enforcements, and be en- 
treated Washington to aid him with bis influence. He 
wished to bave bis army composed of troops from as many 
different States as possible ; tbe Southern people, having a 
greater spirit of discipline and subordination, might, he 
thought, introduce it among tbe Eastern people. 

He wished also for the assistance of a general officer or 
two in bis department. **I am alone," writes be, "dis- 
tracted with a variety of cares, and no one to take part of 
tbe burden." * 

Although Washington considered a winter attack of the 

Schuyler's Letter Book, MS. 

Clfe of U/a8l?ii7<$toi7 377 

kind specified by Schuyler too difficult and dangerous to be 
very probable, he urged re-enforcements from Massachusetts 
and New Hampshire, whence they could be furnished most 
speedily. Massachusetts, in fact, had already determined to 
send four regiments to Schuyler's aid as soon as possible. 

Washington disapproved of a mixture of troops in the 
present critical juncture, knowing, he said, **the difficulty of 
maintaining harmony among men from different States, and 
bringing them to lay aside all attachments and distinctions 
of a local and provincial nature, and consider themselves 
the same people^ engaged in the same noble struggle, and 
having one general interest to defend. ' ' * 

The quota of Massachusetts, under the present arrange- 
ment of the army, was fifteen regiments : and Washington 
ordered General Heath, who was in Massachusetts, to for- 
ward them to Ticonderoga as fast as they could be raised, f 

Notwithstanding all Washington's exertions in behalf of 
the army under his immediate command, it continued to be 
deplorably in want of re-enforcements, and it was necessary 
to maintain the utmost vigilance at all his posts to prevent 
his camp from being surprised. The operations of the enemy 
might be delayed by the bad condition of the roads, and the 
want of horses to move their artillery, but he anticipated an 
attack as soon as the roads were passable, and apprehended 
a disastrous result unless speedily re-enforced. 

"The enemy," writes he, *^must be ignorant of our num- 
bers and situation, or they would never suffer us to remain 
unmolested, and I must tax myself with imprudence in com- 
mitting the fact to paper, lest this letter should fall into other 

* Schuyler's Letter Book, MS. 

t Sparks. Washington's Writings, iv. 361, note. 

378 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir>($toi> Iruii>^ 

hands than those for which it is intended. " And again : "It 
is not in my power to make Congress fully sensible of the 
real situation of our affairs, and that it is with difficulty I 
can keep the life and soul of the army together. In a word, 
they are at a distance ; they think it is but to say presto, he- 
gone, and everything is done; they seem not to have any 
conception of the difficulty and perplexity of those who have 
to execute." 

The designs of the enemy being mere matter of conject- 
ure, -measures varied accordingly. As the season advanced, 
Washington was led to believe that Philadelphia would be 
their first object at the opening of the campaign, and that 

they would bring round all their troops from Canada by 


water to aid in the enterprise. Under this persuasion he 
wrote to General Heath, ordering him to send eight of the 
Massachusetts battalions to Peekskill, instead of Ticon- 
deroga ; and explained his reasons for so doing in a letter 
to Schuyler. At Peekskill, he observed, '*they would be 
well placed to give support to any of the Eastern or Middle 
States; or to oppose the enemy, should they design to pene- 
trate the country up the Hudson ; or to cover New England, 
should they invade it. Should they move westward, the 
Eastern and Southern troops could easily form a junction, 
and this, besides, would oblige the enemy to leave a much 
stronger garrison at New York. Even should the enemy 
pursue their first plan of invasion from Canada, the troops 
at Peekskill would not be badly placed to re-enforce Ticon- 
deroga, and cover the country around Albany. I am very 
sure," concludes he, **the operations of this army will, in 
a great degree, govern the motions of that in Canada. If 
this is held at hay, curhed and confined, the Northern 
army loill not dare attempt to penetrate.*^ The last sen- 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($toQ 379 

tence will be found to contain the policy which governed 
Washington's personal movements throughout the campaign. 

On the 18th of March he dispatched General Greene to 
Philadelphia, to lay before Congress such matters as he could 
not venture to communicate by letter. 

**He is an able and good officer," writes he, '*who has 
my entire confidence and is intimately acquainted with my 

Greene had scarce departed when the enemy began to 
show signs of life. The delay in the arrival of artillery, 
more than his natural indolence, had kept General Howe 
from formally taking the field; he now made preparations 
for the next campaign, by detaching troops to destroy the 
American deposits of military stores. One of the chief of 
these was at Peekskill, the very place whither Washington 
had directed Heath to send troops from Massachusetts ; and 
which he thought of making a central point of assemblage. 
Howe terms it "the port of that rough and mountainous 
tract called the Manor of Courtlandt." Brigadier-general 
McDougall had the command of it in the absence of General 
Heath, but his force did not exceed two hundred and fifty 

As soon as the Hudson was clear of ice, a squadron of 
vessels of war and transports, with five hundred troops 
under Colonel Bird, ascended the river. McDougall had 
intelhgence of the intended attack, and while the ships were 
making their way across the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw 
Bay, exerted himself to remove as much as possible of the 
provisions and stores to Forts Montgomery and Constitution 
in the Highlands. On the morning of the 23d, the whole 
squadron *eame to anchor in Peekskill Bay ; and five hundred 
men landed in Lent's Cove, on the south side of the bay, 

3S0 U/orKs of U/asJ^iQ^tor) lrv\r)<^ 

whence they pushed forward with four light field-pieces 
drawn by sailors. On their approach, McDougall set fire 
to the barracks and principal storehouses, and retreated about 
two miles to a strong post, commanding the entrance to the 
Highlands and the road to Continental Village, the place 
of the deposits. It was the post which had been noted by 
Washington in the preceding year, where a small force could 
make a stand and hurl down masses of rock on their assail- 
ants. Hence McDougall sent an express to Lieutenant- 
colonel Marinus Willett, who had charge of Fort Consti- 
tution, to hasten to his assistance. 

The British, finding the wharf in flames where they had 
intended to embark their spoils, completed the conflagration, 
besides destroying severals mall craft laden with provisions. 
They kept possession of the place till the following day, 
when a scouting party, which had advanced toward the 
entrance of the Highlands, was encountered by Colonel 
Marinus "Willett with a detachment from Fort Constitution, 
and driven back to the main body after a sharp skirmish, in 
which nine of the marauders were killed. Four more were 
slain on the banks of Canopas Creek as they were setting 
fire to some boats. The enemy were disappointed in the 
hope of carrying off a great deal of booty, and finding the 
country around was getting under arms, they contented 
themselves with the mischief they had done, and re-embarked 
in the evening by moonlight, when the whole squadron 
swept down the Hudson. 

Cif8 of U/a8l?ip<$tOQ 381 


Schuyler's Affairs in the Northern Department — Misunderstandings 
with Congress— Gives offense by a Reproachful Letter — Office 
of Adjutant-General offered to Gates — Declined by him — Schuy- 
ler Reprimanded by Congress for his Reproachful Letter — Gates 
appointed to the Command at Ticonderoga — Schuyler considers 
himself virtually suspended — Takes his Seat as a Delegate to 
Congress, and Claims a Court of Inquiry — Has Command at 

We have now to enter upon a tissue of circumstances 
connected with the Northern department, which will be 
found materially to influence the course of affairs in that 
quarter throughout the current year, and ultimately to be 
fruitful of annoyance to Washington himself. To make 
these more clear to the reader, it is necessary to revert 
to events in the preceding year. 

The question of command between Schuyler and Gates, 
when settled as we have shown by Congress, had caused no 
interruption to the harmony of intercourse between these 

Schuyler directed the affairs of the department with 
energy and activity from his headquarters in Albany, where 
they had been fixed by Congress, while Gates, subordinate 
to him, commanded the post of Ticonderoga. 

The disappointment of an independent command, how- 
ever, still rankled in the mind of the latter, and was kept 
alive by the officious suggestions of meddling friends. In 
the course of the autunm, his hopes in this respect revived. 

dS2 Vor^s of U/asl^nQV^'^^ iruii)^ 

Schuyler was again disgusted with the service. In the dis- 
charge of his various and harassing duties, he had been an- 
noyed by sectional jealousies and ill will. His motives and 
measures had been maligned. The failures in Canada had 
been attributed to him, and he had repeatedly entreated 
Congress to order an inquiry into the many charges made 
against him, '*that he might not any longer be insulted." 

'^I assure you," writes he to Gates, on the 25th of Au- 
gust, ^'that I am so sincerely tired of abuse that I will let 
my enemies arrive at the completion of their wishes by retir- 
ing, as soon as I shall have been tried ; and attempt to serve 
my injured country in some other way, where envy and 
detraction will have no temptation to follow me." 

On the 14th of September, he actually offered his resig- 
nation of his commission as major-general, and of every 
other office and appointment; still claiming a court of in- 
quiry on his conduct, and expressing his determination to 
fulfill the duties of a good citizen, and promote the weal 
of his native country, but in some other capacity. **I trust," 
writes he, "that my successor, whoever he may be, will find 
that matters are as prosperously arranged in this department 
as the nature of the service will admit. I shall most readily 
give him any information and assistance in my power." 

He immediately wrote to General Gates, apprising him 
of his having sent in his resignation. **It is much to be 
lamented," writes he, *'that calumny is so much cherished 
in this unhappy country, and that so few of the servants of 
the public escape the malevolence of a set of insidious mis- 
creants. It has driven me to the necessity of resigning." 

As the command of the department, should his resig- 
nation be accepted, would of course devolve on Gates, he 
assures him he will render every assistance in his power to 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)($l:or> 383 

any officer whom Gates might appoint to command in 

All his letters to Gates, while they were thus in relation 
in the department, had been kind and courteous; beginning 
with, *'My dear General,*' and ending with, ''adieu," and 
** every friendly wish." Schuyler was a warm-hearted man, 
and his expressions were probably sincere. 

The hopes of Gates, inspired by this proffered resignation, 
were doomed to be again overclouded. Schuyler was in- 
formed by President Hancock, 'Hhat Congress, during the 
present state of affairs, could not consent to accept of his 
resignation; but requested that he would continue in the 
command he held, and be assured that the aspersions thrown 
out by his enemies against his character had no influence 
upon the minds of the members of that House ; and that, 
more effectually to put calumny to silence, they would at an 
early day appoint a committee to inquire fully into his con- 
duct, which they trusted would establish his reputation in 
the opinion of all good men." 

Schuyler received the resolve of Congress with grim 
acquiescence, but showed in his reply that he was but half 
soothed. "At this very critical juncture, " writes he, October 
16, ''I shall waive those remarks which, in justice to myself, 
I must make at a future day. The calumny of my enemies 
has arisen to its height. Their malice is incapable of height- 
ening the injury. , . . In the alarming situation of our 
affairs, I shall continue to act some time longer, but Con- 
gress must prepare to put the care of this department into 
other hands. I shall be able to render my country better 
services in another line ; less exposed to a repetition of the 
injuries I have sustained." 

He had remained at his post, therefore, discharging the 

i384 U/or^g of U/asF?i9<$tor> Iruio^ 

various duties of his department with his usual zeal and 
activity; and Gates, at the end of the campaign, had re- 
paired, as we have shown, to the vicinity of Congresfo, to 
attend the fluctuation of events. 

Circumstances in the course of the winter had put the 
worthy Schuyler again on points of punctilio with Congress, 
Among some letters intercepted by the enemy and retaken 
by the Americans was one from Colonel Joseph Trumbull, 
the commissary-general, insinuating that General Schuyler 
had secreted or suppressed a commission sent for his brother, 
Colonel John Trumbull, as deputy adjutant-general.* The 
purport of the letter was reported to Schuylero He spumed 
at the insinuation o **If it be true that he has asserted such 
a thing," writes he to the president, *'I shall expect from 
Congress that justice which is due to me.'^ 

Three weeks later he inclosed to the president a copy of 
Trumbull's letter. **I hope," writes he, "Congress will not 
entertain the least idea ^that I can tamely submit to such 
injurious treatment. I expect they will immediately do 
what is incumbent on them on the occasion. Until Mr. 
Trumbull and I are upon a footing, I cannot do what the 
laws of honor and a regard to my own reputation render 
indispensably necessary. Congress can put us on a par by 
dismissing one or the other from the service.'* 

Congress failed to comply with the general's request. 
They added also to his chagrin, by dismissing from the 
service an army physician, in whose appointment he had 
particularly interested himself. 

* The reader may recollect that it was Commissary-gen- 
eral Trumbull who wrote the letter to Gates calculated to 
inflame his jealousy against Schuyler, when the questiofi 
of command had risen between them. (See pt. H., ch. 28 ) 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 385 

Schuyler was a proud-spirited man, and, at times, some- 
what irascible. In a letter to Congress on the 8th of Febru- 
ary, he observed : ^ ' As Dr. Stringer had my recommendation 
to the office he has sustained, perhaps it was a compliment 
due to me that I should have been advised of the reason of 
his dismission." 

And again : " I was in hopes some notice would have been 
taken of the odious suspicion contained in Mr. Commissary 
Trumbull's intercepted letter. I really feel myself deeply 
chagrined on the occasion. I am incapable of the meanness 
he suspects me of, and I confidently expected that Congress 
would have done me that justice which it was in their power 
to give, and which I humbly conceive they ought to have 

This letter gave great umbrage to Congress, but no imme- 
diate answer was made to it. 

About this time the office of adjutant-general, which had 
remained vacant ever since the resignation of Colonel Reed, 
to the great detriment of the service, especially now when 
a new army was to be formed, was offered to General 
Gates, who had formerly filled it with ability; and Presi- 
dent Hancock informed him, by letter, of the earnest 
desire of Congress that he should resume it, retaining his 
present rank and pay. 

Gates almost resented the proposal. '* Unless the com- 
mander-in-chief earnestly makes the same request with your 
Excellency," replies he, "all my endeavors as adjutant- 
general would be vain and fruitless. I had last year the 
honor to command in the second post in America; and had 
the good fortune to prevent the enemy from making their 
so much wished-for junction with General Howe. After 

this, to be expected to dwindle again to the adjutant-general. 
Vol. XIII.—** *17 

^86 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^tOQ Iruir>($ 

requires more philosophy on my part, and something more 
than words on yours." * 

He wrote to Washington to the same effect, but declared 
that, should it be his Excellency's wish, he would resume 
the office with alacrity. 

"Washington promptly replied that he had often wished 
it in secret, though he had never even hinted at it ; supposing 
Gates might have scruples on the subject. "You cannot 
conceive the pleasure I feel," adds he, "when you tell me 
that, if it is my desire that you should resume your former 
office, you will with cheerfulness and alacrity proceed to 
Morristown." He thanks him for this mark of attention 
to his wishes; assures him that he looks upon his resumption 
of the office as the only means of giving form and regularity 
to the new army; and will be glad to receive a line from 
him mentioning the time he would leave Philadelphia. 

He received no such line. Gates had a higher object in 
view. A letter from Schuyler to Congress had informed 
that body that he should set out for Philadelphia about the 
21st of March, and should immediately on his arrival require 
the promised inquiry into his conduct. Gates, of course, 
was acquainted with this circumstance. He knew Schuyler 
had given offense to Congress ; he knew he had been offended 
on his own part, and had repeatedly talked of resigning. He 
had active friends in Congress ready to push his interests. 
On the 12th of March his letter to President Hancock about 
the proffered adjutancy was read, and ordered to be taken 
into consideration on the following day. 

On the 13th, a committee of five was appointed to confer 
with him upon the general state of affairs. 

* Gates's Papers, N. Y, Hist. Lib. 

Cife of U/asl?ir7($tOQ 387 

On the 15th, the letter of General Schuyler of the 3d of 
February, which had given such offense, was brought before 
the House, and it was resolved that his suggestion concern- 
ing the dismission of Dr. Stringer was highly derogatory 
to the honor of Congress, and that it was expected his letters 
in future would be written in a style suitable to the dignity 
of the representative body of these free and independent 
States, and to his own character as their officer. His ex- 
pressions, too, respecting the intercepted letter, that he had 
expected Congress would have done him all the justice in 
their power, were pronounced, *Ho say the least, ill-advised 
and highly indecent." * 

While Schuyler was thus in partial eclipse, the House 
proceeded to appoint a general officer for the Northern de- 
partment, of which he had stated it to be in need. 

On the 25th of March, Gates received the following note 
from President Hancock: ''I have it in charge to direct that 
you repair to Ticonderoga immediately, and take command 
of the army stationed in that department." 

Gates obeyed with alacrity. Again the vision of an 
independent command floated before his mind, and he was 
on his way to Albany at the time that Schuyler, ignorant 
of this new arrangement, was journeying to Philadelphia. 
Gates was accompanied by Brigadier-general Fermois, a 
French officer, recently commissioned in the Continental 
army. A rumor of his approach preceded him. '^What are 
the terms on which Gates is coming on?" was asked in 
Albany. ''Has Schuyler been superseded, or is he to be so, 
or has he resigned?" For a time all was rumor and con- 
jecture. A report reached his family that he was to be 

* Journals of Congress. 

S88 U/orl^s of \I/a8l?»r7^tor> Iruik7^ 

divested of all titles and rank other than that of Philip 
Schuyler, Esquire. They heard it with joy, knowing the 
carking cares and annoyances that had beset him in his com- 
mand. His military friends deprecated it as a great loss to 
the service.* 

When Gates arrived in Albany, Colonel Varick, Schuy- 
ler's secretary, waited on him with a message from Mrs. 
Schuyler, inviting him to take up his quarters a'c the general's 
house, which was in the vicinity. He declined, as the dis- 
patch of affairs required him to be continually in town ; but 
took his breakfast with Mrs. Schuyler the next morning. 
He remained in Albany, unvvillingto depart for Ticonderoga 
until there should be sufficient troops there to support him. 

Schuyler arrived in Philadelphia in the second week in 
April, and found himself superseded in effect by General 
Gates in the Northern department. He inclosed to the com- 
mittee of Albany the recent resolutions of Congress, passed 
before his arrival. "By these," writes he, '*you will readily 
perceive that I shall not return a general. Under what 
influence it has been brought about I am not at liberty now 
to mention. On my return to Albany I shall give the com- 
mittee the fullest information." f 

Taking his seat in Congress as a delegate from New 
York, he demanded the promised investigation of his con- 
duct during the time he had held a command in the army. 
It was his intention, when the scrutiny had taken place, to 
resign his commission and retire from the service. On the 
18th, a committee of inquiry was appointed, as at his request, 
composed of a member from each State. 

* Letter of Colonel Richard Varick. Schuyler's Letter 

t Schuyler's Letter Book. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 389 

In the meantime, as second major-general of the United 
States (Lee being the first), he held active command at Phila- 
delphia, forming a camp on the western side of the Dela- 
ware, completing the works on Fort Island, throwing up 
works on Red Bank, and accelerating the dispatch of troops 
and provisions to the commander-in-chief. During his so- 
journ at Philadelphia, also, he contributed essentially to 
reorganize tht commissary department; digesting rules for 
its regulations which were mainly adopted by Congress. 


Foreign Officers Candidates for Situations in the Army — Difficulties 
in adjusting Questions of Rank — Ducoudray — Conway — Kosci- 
uszko — Washington's Guards — Arnold Omitted in the Army 
Promotions — "Washington takes his Part — British Expedition 
against Danbury — Destruction of American Stores — Connecti- 
cut Yeomanry in Arms — Skirmish at Ridgefield — Death of Gen- 
eral Wooster — Gallant Services of Arnold — Rewarded by Con- 
gress — Exploit of Colonel Meigs at Sag Harbor 

The fame of the American struggle for independence 
was bringing foreign officers as candidates for admission into 
the patriot army, and causing great embarrassment to the 
commander-in-chief. **They seldom," writes Washington, 
"bring more than a commission and a passport; which we 
know may belong to a bad as well as a good officer. Their 
ignorance of our language, and their inability to recruit men, 
are insurmountable obstacles to their being ingrafted in our 
Continental battalions; for our officers, who have raised 
their men, and have served through the war upon pay that 
has not hitherto borne their expenses, would be disgusted 
if foreigners were put over their head; and I assure you. 

890 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^too Iruip^ 

few or none of these gentlemen look lower than field-officer's 
commissions. . . . Some general mode of disposing of them 
must be adopted, for it is ungenerous to keep them in sus- 
pense, and a great charge to themselves; but I am at a loss 
to know how to point out this mode." 

Congress determined that no foreign officers should re- 
ceive commissions who were not well acquainted with the 
English language, and did not bring strong testimonials of 
their abilities. Still there was embarrassment. Some came 
with brevet commissions from the French government, and 
had been assured by Mr. Deane, American commissioner at 
Paris, that they would have the same rank in the American 
army. This would put them above American officers of 
merit and hard service, whose commissions were of more 
recent date. One Monsieur Ducoudray, on the strength of 
an agreement with Mr. Deane, expected to have the rank 
of major-general, and to be put at the head of the artillery. 
Washington deprecated the idea of intrusting a department 
on which the very salvation of the army might depend to 
a foreigner, who had no other tie to bind him to the interests 
of the country than honor; besides, he observed, it would 
endanger the loss to the service of General Knox, "a man 
of great military reading, sound judgment, and clear percep- 
tions. He has conducted the affairs of that department with 
honor to himself and advantage to the public, and will resign 
if any one is put over him." 

In fact, the report that Ducoudray was to be a major- 
general, with a commission dated in the preceding year, 
caused a commotion among the American officers of that 
rank, but whose commissions were of later date. Congress 
eventually determined not to ratify the contract entered into 
between Mr. Deane and Monsieur Ducoudray, and resolved 

Cife cf U/a8l?iQ<$tor) 391 

that the commissions of foreign officers received into the 
service should bear date on the day of their being filled up 
by Washington. 

Among the foreign candidates for appointments was one 
Colonel Conway, a native of Ireland, but who, according 
to his own account, had been thirty years in the service of 
France, and claimed to be a chevalier of the order of St. 
Louis, of which he wore the decoration. Mr. Deane had 
recommended him to Washington as an officer of merit, and 
had written to Congress that he considered him well qualified 
for the office of adjutant or brigadier-general, and that he 
had given him reason to hope for one or the other of these 
appointments. Colonel Conway pushed for that of brigadier- 
general. It had been conferred some time before by Con- 
gress on two French officers, De Fermois and Deborre, who, 
he had observed, had been inferior to him in the French 
service, and it would be mortifying now to hold rank below 

''I cannot pretend," writes Washington to the president, 
*'to speak of Colonel Conway's merits or abilities of my own 
knowledge. He appears to be a man of candor, and, if he 
has been in service as long as he says, I should suppose him 
infinitely better qualified to serve us than many who have 
been promoted, as he speaks our language." 

Conway accordingly received the rank of brigadier-gen- 
eral, of which he subsequently proved himself unworthy. 
He was boastful and presumptuous, and became noted for 
his intrigues, and for a despicable cabal against the com- 
mander-in-chief, which went by his name, and of which we 
shall have to speak hereafter. 

A candidate of a different stamp haiA presented himself 
in the preceding year, the gallant, generous-spirited Thad- 

392 U/orKs of U/agf?ir>^tor> Iruirj^ 

deus Kosciuszko. He was a Pole, of an ancient and noble 
family of Lithuania, and had been educated for the profes- 
sion of arms at the military school at Warsaw, and subse- 
quently in France. Disappointed in a love affair with a 
beautiful lady of rank, witli whom he had attempted to 
elope, he had emigrated to this country, and came provided 
with a letter of introduction from Dr. Franklin to Wash- 

*'What do you seek here?" inquired the commander-in- 

"To fight for American independence." 

"What can you do?" 

"Try me." 

Washington was pleased with the curt, yet comprehen- 
sive reply, and with his chivalrous air and spirit; and at 
once received him into his family as an aid-de-camp. * Con- 
gress shortly afterward appointed him an engineer, with the 
rank of colonel. He proved a valuable officer throughout 
the Revolution, and won an honorable and lasting name in 
our country. 

Among the regiments which had been formed in the 
spring one had been named, by its officers, '*The Congress's 
Own," and another "General Washington's Life Guards." 
A resolve of Congress promptly appeared, pronouncing those 
appellations improper, and ordering that they should be dis- 
continued. Washington's own modesty had already admin- 
istered a corrective. In a letter to the President of Congress, 
he declared that the regiments had been so named ^vithout 
his consent or privity. "As soon as I heard of it," writes 
he, "I wrote to several of the officers in terms of sever© 

* Foreign Quarterly Review, vol. xv., p. 114. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toi? 393 

reprehension, and expressly charged them to suppress the 
distinction, adding that all the battalions were on the same 
footing, and all under the general name of Continental." 
No man was less desirous for all individual distinctions of 
the kind. 

Somewhat later he really formed a company for his 
guard. Colonel Alexander Spots wood had the selection of 
the men, four from each regiment; and was charged to be 
extremely cautious, ''because,*' writes Washington, ''it is 
more than probable that, in the course of the campaign, my 
baggage, papers, and other matters of great public import, 
may be committed to the sole care of these men." That the 
company might look well and be nearly of a size, none were 
to be over five feet ten, nor under five feet nine inches in 
stature, and to be sober, young, active, and well-made, of 
good character, and proud of appearing clean and soldier- 
like. As there would be a greatei* chance for fidelity among 
such as had family connections in the country, Spotswood 
was charged to send none but natives, and, if possible, men 
of some property. "I must insist," concludes Washington, 
"that, in making this choice, you give no intimation of my 
preference of natives, as I do not want to create any invidi- 
ous distinction between them and the officers." * 

Questions of rank among his generals were, as we have 
repeatedly shown, perpetual sources of perplexity to Wash- 
ington, and too often caused by what the sarcastic Lee 
termed, "the stumblings of Congress"; such was the case 
at present. In recent army promotions. Congress had ad- 
vanced Stirling, Mifflin, St. Clair, Stephen, and Lincoln, 
to the rank of major-general, while Arnold, their senior in 

* Sparks. Writings of Washington, iv. 407. 

394: \JJor\s of \JJa&\)ir)(^toT) Iruir)<$ 

service, and distinguislied by so many brilliant exploits, was 
passed over and left to remain a brigadier. 

AYashington was surprised at not seeing his name on the 
list, but supposing it might have been omitted through mis- 
take, he wrote to Arnold, who was at Providence in Rhode 
Island, advising him not to take any hasty step in conse- 
quence, but to allow time for recollection, promising his own 
endeavors to remedy any error that might have been made. 
He wrote also to Henry Lee in Congress, inquiring whether 
the omission was owing to accident or design. *' Surely," 
said he, '*a more active, a more spirited, and sensible officer, 
fills no department of your army. Not seeing him, then, in 
the list of major-generals, and no mention made of him, has 
given me uneasiness; as it is not presumed, being the oldest 
brigadier, that he will continue in service under such a 

Arnold was, in truth, deeply wounded by the omission. 
**I am greatly obliged to your Excellency," writes he to 
Washington, '*for interesting yourself so much in respect 
to my appointment, which I have had no advice of, and 
know not by what means it was announced in the papers. 
Congress undoubtedly have a right of promoting those 
whom, from their abilities and their long and arduous ser- 
vices, they esteem most deserving. Their promoting junior 
officers to the rank of major-generals, I view as a very civil 
way of requesting my resignation, as unqualified for the 
office I hold. My commission was conferred unsolicited, and 
received with pleasure only as a means of serving my coun- 
try. With equal pleasure I resign it, when I can no longer 
serve my country with honor. The person, who, void of the 
nice feelings of honor, will tamely condescend to give up 
his right, and retain a commission at the expense )i his 

Cife of U/asl?ir>($tor> 395 

reputation, I hold as a disgrace to the army and unworthy 
of the glorious cause in which we are engaged. ... In 
justice, therefore, to my own character, and for the satis- 
faction of my friends, I must request a court of inquiry into 
my conduct; and though I sensibly feel the ingratitude of 
my countrymen, yet every personal injury shall be buried in 
my zeal for the safety and happiness of my country, in whose 
cause I have repeatedly fought and bleed, and am ready at 
all times to risk my life." 

He subsequently intimated that he should avoid any 
hasty step, and should remain at his post until he could 
leave it without any damage to the public interest. 

The principle upon which Congress had proceeded in 
their recent promotions was explained to Washington. The 
number of general oflScers promoted from each State was 
proportioned to the number of men furnished by it. Con- 
necticut (Arnold's State) had already two major-generals, 
which was its full share. *'I confess," writes Washington 
to Arnold, "this is a strange mode of reasoning; but it may 
serve to show you that the promotion, which was due to 
your seniority, was not overlooked for want of merit in you." 

"The point," observes he, "is of so delicate a nature that 
I will not even undertake to advise. Your own feelings 
must be your guide. As no particular charge is alleged 
against you, I do not see upon what grounds you can demand 
a court of inquiry. Your determination not to quit your 
present command while any danger to the public might 
ensue from your leaving it, deserves my thanks, and justly 
entitles you to the thanks of the country." 

An opportunity occurred before long for Arnold again to 
signalize himself. 

The amount of stores destroyed at Peekskill had fallen 

396 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ii>^too IruiQ<^ 

far short of General Howe's expectations. Something moro 
must be done to cripple the Americans before the opening 
of the campaign. Accordingly, another expedition was set 
on foot against a still larger deposit at Danbury, within the 
borders of Connecticut, and between twenty and thirty miles 
from Peekskill. 

Ex-Governor Tryon, recently commissioned major-gen-= 
eral of provincials, conducted it, accompanied by Brigadier- 
general Agnew and Sir William Erskine. He had a mon- 
grel force, two thousand strong, American, Irish, and British 
refugees from various parts of the continent, and made his 
appearance on the Sound the latter part of April, with a 
fleet of twenty-six sail, greatly to the disquiet of every 
assailable place along the coast. On the 25th, toward even- 
ing, he landed his troops on the beach at the foot of Canepo 
Hill, near the mouth of the Saugatuck River. The yeo- 
manry of the neighborhood had assembled to resist them, 
but a few cannon-shot made them give way, and the troops 
set off for Danbury, about twenty -three miles distant; galled 
at first by a scattering fire from behind a stone fence. They 
were in a patriotic neighborhood. General Silliman, of the 
Connecticut militia, who resided at Fairfield, a few miles 
distant, sent out expresses to rouse the country. It so hap= 
pened that General Arnold was at New Haven, between 
twenty and thirty miles off, on his way to Philadelphia for 
the purpose of settling his accounts. At the alarm of a 
British inroad, he forgot his injuries and irritation, mounted 
his horse, and, accompanied by General Wooster, hastened 
to join General Silliman. As they spurred forward, every 
farmhouse sent out its warrior, until upward of a hundred 
were pressing on with them, full of the fighting spirit. Lieu- 
tenant Osv^ald, Arnold's secretary in the Canada campaign. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^too 397 

who had led the forlorn hope in the attempt upon Quebec, 
was at this time at New Haven, enlisting men for Lamb's 
regiment of artillery. He, too, heard the note of alarm, and 
mustering his recruits, marched off with three field-pieces 
for the scene of action.* 

In the meanwhile the British, marching all night with 
short baitings, reached Danbury about two o'clock in the 
afternoon of the 26th. There were but fifty Continental sol- 
diers and one hundred militia in that place. These retreated, 
as did most of the inhabitants, excepting such as remained 
to take care of the sick and aged. Four men, intoxicated, 
as it was said, fired upon the troops from the windows of a 
large house. The soldiers rushed in, drove them into the 
cellar, set fire to the house, and left them to perish in 
the flames. 

There was a great quantity of stores of all kinds in the 
village, and no vehicles to convey them to the ships. The 
work of destruction commenced. The soldiers made free 
with the liquors found in abundance; and throughout the 
greater part of the night there was revel, drunkenness, blas- 
phemy and devastation. Tryon, full of anxiety, and aware 
that the country was rising, ordered a retreat before day- 
light, setting fire to the magazines to complete the destruc- 
tion of the stores. The flames spread to the other edifices, 
and almost the whole village was soon in a blaze. The ex- 
treme darkness of a rainy night made the conflagration more 
balef ully apparent throughout the country. 

While these scenes had been transacted at Danbury, the 
Connecticut yeomanry had been gathering. Fairfield and 
the adjacent counties had poured out their minute men. 

Life of Lamb, p. 157. 

398 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top IruiQ^ 

General Silliman had advanced at the head of five hundred. 
Generals Wooster and Arnold joined him with their chance 
followers, as did a few more militia. A heavy rain retarded 
their march ; it was near midnight when they reached Bethel, 
within four miles of D anbury. Here they halted to take a 
little repose and put their arms in order, rendered almost 
unserviceable by the rain. They were now about six hun- 
dred strong. Wooster took the command, as first major- 
general of the militia of the State. Though in the sixty- 
eighth year of his age, he was full of ardor, with almost 
youthful fire and daring. A plan was concerted to punish 
the enemy on their retreat ; and the lurid light of Danbury 
in flames redoubled the provocation. At dawn of day, 
"Wooster detached Arnold with four hundred men to push 
across the country and take post at Ridgefield, by which the 
British must pass; while he with two hundred remained to 
hang on and harass them in flank and rear. 

The British began their retreat early in the morning, 
conducting it in regular style, with flanking parties and a 
rearguard well furnished with artillery. As soon as they 
had passed his position, Wooster attacked the rearguard 
with great spirit and effect; there was sharp skirmishing 
until within two miles of Ridgefield, when, as the veteran 
was cheering on his men, who began to waver, a musket 
ball brought him down from his horse, and finished his 
gallant career. On his fall his men retreated in disorder. 
The delay which his attack had occasioned to the enemy had 
given Arnold time to throw up a kind of breastwork or 
barricade across the road at the north end of Ridgefield, 
protected by a house on the right and a high rocky bank on 
the left, where he took his stand with his little force, now 
increased to about five hundred men. At about eleven 

Cife of U/a8l7i9<$toQ 399 

o'clock the enemy advanced in column, with artillery and 
flanking parties. They were kept at bay for a time, and 
received several volleys from the barricade, until it was out- 
flanked and carried. Arnold ordered a retreat, and was 
bringing off the rearguard, when his horse was shot under 
him and came down upon his knees. Arnold remained 
seated in the saddle, with one foot entangled in the stirrups. 
A tory soldier, seeing his plight, rushed toward him with 
fixed bayonet. He had just time to draw a pistol from the 
holster. **You are my prisoner," cried the tory. ^^Not 
yet!" exclaimed Arnold, and shot him dead; then, extri- 
cating his foot from the stirrup, he threw himself into the 
thickets of a neighboring swamp, and escaped unharmed by 
the bullets that whistled after him, and joined his retreating 

General Tryon intrenched for the night in Ridgefield, his 
troops having suffered greatly in their harassed retreat. The 
next morning, after having set fire to four houses, he con- 
tinued his march for the ships. Colonel Huntington, of the 
Continental army, with the troops which had been stationed 
at Danbury, the scattered force of Wooster which had joined 
him, and a number of militia, hung on the rear of the enemy 
as soon as they were in motion. Arnold was again in the 
field, with his rallied forces, strengthened by Lieutenant- 
colonel Oswald with two companies of Lamb's artillery reg- 
iment and three field-pieces. With these he again posted 
himself on the enemy's route. 

Difficulties and annoyances had multiplied upon the lat- 
ter at every step. When they came in sight of the position 
where Arnold was waiting for them, they changed their 
route, wheeled to the left, and made for a ford of Saugatuck 
River. Arnold hastened to cross the bridge and take them 

400 U/orl^8 of U/asl^iQ^tOQ Iruip^ 

in flank, but they were too quick for him. Colonel Lamb 
had now reached the scene of action, as had about two hun- 
dred volunteers. Leaving to Oswald the charge of the 
artillery, he put himself at the head of the volunteers and 
led them up to Arnold's assistance. 

The enemy, finding themselves hard pressed, pushed for 
Canepo Hill. They reached it in the evening, without a 
round of ammunition in their cartridge-boxes. As they were 
now within cannon-shot of their ships, the Americans ceased 
the pursuit. The British formed upon the high ground, 
brought their artillery to the front, and sent off to the ships 
for re-enforcements. Sir "William Erskine landed a large 
body of marines and sailors, who drove the Americans back 
for some distance, and covered the embarkation of the troops. 
Colonel Lamb, while leading on his men gallantly to capture 
the British field- pieces, was wounded by a grape-shot, and 
Arnold, while cheering on the militia, had another horse shot 
under him. In the meantime, the harassed marauders 
effected their embarkation, and the fleet got under way. 

In this inroad the enemy destroyed a considerable 
amount of military stores, and seventeen hundred tents 
prepared for the use of "Washington's army in the ensuing 
campaign. The loss of General Wooster was deeply de- 
plored. He survived the action long enough to be consoled 
in his dying moments at Danbury, by the presence of his 
wife and son, who hastened thither from New Haven. As 
to Arnold, his gallantry in this affair gained him fresh 
laurels, and Congress, to remedy their late error, promoted 
him to the rank of major-general. Still his promotion did 
not restore him to his former position. He was at the bot- 
tom of the list of major-generals, with four officers above 
him, his juniors in service. Washington felt this injustice 

Cife of U/asJ7iQ<$toi) 401 

on the part of Congress, and wrote about it to the president. 
*^He has certainly discovered," said he, "in every instance 
where he has had an opportunity, much bravery, activity, 
and enterprise. But what will be done about his rank? He 
will not act, most probably, under those he commanded but 
a few weeks ago." 

As an additional balm to Arnold's wounded pride, Con- 
gress, a few days afterward, voted that a horse properly 
caparisoned should be presented to him in their name, as a 
token of their approbation of his gallant conduct in the late 
action, '*in which he had one horse shot under him and 
another wounded." But after all he remained at the bottom 
of the list, and the wound still rankled in his bosom. 

The destructive expeditions against the American depots 
of military stores were retaliated in kind by Colonel Meigs, 
a spirited officer, who had accompanied Arnold in his expedi- 
tion through the wilderness against Quebec, and had caught 
something of his love for hardy exploit. Having received 
intelligence that the British commissaries had collected a 
great amount of grain, forage, and other supplies at Sag 
Harbor, a small port in the deep bay which forks the east 
end of Long Island, he crossed the Sound on the 23d of 
May from Guilford in Connecticut, with about one hundred 
and seventy men in whale boats convoyed by two armed 
sloops : landed on the island near Southold ; carried the boats 
a distance of fifteen miles across the north fork of the bay, 
launched them into the latter, crossed it, landed within four 
miles of Sag Harbor, and before daybreak carried the place, 
which was guarded by a company of foot. A furious fire of 
round and grape-shot was opened upon the Americans from 
an armed schooner, anchored about one hundred and fifty 
yards from shore ; and stout defense was made by the crews 

402 U/or^s of U/asl^fp^top Iruir?*^ 

of a dozen brigs and sloops lying at the wharf to take in 
freight; but Meigs succeeded in burning these vessels, de- 
stroying everything on shore, and carrying off ninety pris- 
oners; among whom were the officers of the company of 
foot, the commissaries, and the captains of most of these 
small vessels. With these he and his party recrossed the 
bay, transported their boats again across the fork of land, 
launched them on the Sound, and got safe back to Guilford, 
having achieved all this, and traversed about ninety miles of 
land and water, in twenty- five hours. Washington was so 
highly pleased with the spirit and success of this enterprise 
that he publicly returned thanks to Colonel Meigs and the 
officers and men engaged in it. It could not fail, he said, 
greatly to distress the enemy in the important and essential 
article of forage. But it was the moral effect of the enter- 
prise which gave it the most value. It is difficult, at the 
present day, sufficiently to appreciate the importance of 
partisan exploits of the kind in the critical stage of the war 
of which we are treating. They cheered the spirit of the 
people, depressed by overshadowing dangers and severe 
privations, and kept alive the military spark that was to 
kindle into the future flame. 

Cife of U/a8l?ir>($toi> 403 


Schuyler on the Point of Resigning — Committee of Inquiry Report 
in his Favor — His Memorial to Congress proves Satisfactory — 
Discussions regarding the Northern Department — Gates mis- 
taken as to his Position — He prompts his Friends in Congress — 
His petulant Letter to Washington — Dignified Reply of the Lat- 
ter — Position of Gates denied — Schuyler reinstated in Command 
of the Department — Gates appears on the Floor of Congress — 
His Proceedings there 

The time was at hand for the committee of inquiry on 
General Schuyler's conduct to make their report to Con- 
gress, and he awaited it with impatience. '*I propose in a 
day or two to resign my commission," writes he to Wash- 
ington on the 3d of May. *'As soon as I have done it, 
I shall transmit to your Excellency my reasons for such 
a step." 

"Washington was grieved at receiving this intimation. 
He had ever found Schuyler a faithful coadjutor. He knew 
his peculiar fitness for the Northern department, from his 
knowledge of the country and its people; his influence among 
its most important citizens ; his experience in treating with 
the Indians; his fiery energy; his fertility in expedients, and 
his "sound military sense." But he knew also his sensitive 
nature, and the peculiar annoyances with which he had to 
contend. On a former occasion he had prevented him from 
resigning, by an appeal to his patriotism; he no longer felt 
justified in interfering. *'I am sorry," writes he, **that 
circumstances are such as to dispose you to a resignation; 
but you are the best judge of the line of conduct most recon- 

404 U/orHs of U/asJ?ir)<$t09 Iruip^ 

cilable to your duty, both in a public and personal view; 
and your own feelings must determine you in a matter of so 
delicate and interesting a nature." * 

Affairs, however, were taking a more favorable turn. 
The committee of inquiry made a report which placed the 
character of Schuyler higher than ever as an able and active 
commander, and a zealous and disinterested patriot. 

He made a memorial to Congress explaining away, or 
apologizing for, the expressions in his letter of the 4th of 
February, which had given offense to the House, His me- 
morial was satisfactory ; and he was officially informed that 
Congress now "entertained the same favorable sentiments 
concerning him that they had entertained before that letter 
was received." 

There were warm discussions in the House on the subject 
of the Northern department. Several of the most important 
of the New York delegates observed that General Gates 
misapprehended his position. He considered himself as hold- 
ing the same command as that formerly held by General 
Schuyler. Such was not the intention of Congress in send- 
ing him to take command of the army at Ticonderoga. 
There had been a question between sending him to that 
post, or giving him the adjutancy -general, and it had been 
decided for the former. 

It would be nonsense, they observed, to give him com- 
mand of the Northern department, and confine him to Ticon- 
deroga and Mount Independence, where he could not have 
an extensive idea of the defense of the frontier of the Eastern 
States; but only of one spot, to which the enemy were not 
obliged to confine their operations, and, as it were, to knock 

* Schuyler's Letter Book. 

Cife of \l/as\)iT)(^tOT) 405 

their heads against a single rock. The affairs of the north- 
east, it was added, and of the State of New York in par- 
ticular, were in a critical condition. Much disaffection 
prevailed, and great clashing of interests. There was but 
one man capable of keeping all united against the common 
enemy, and he stood on the books as commander-in-chief 
of the Middle, or, as it was sometimes called, the Northern 
department. His presence was absolutely necessary in his 
home quarters for their immediate succor, but if he returned, 
he would be a general without an army or military chest; 
and why was he thus disgraced? 

The friends of Gates, on the other hand, who were chiefly 
delegates from New England, pronounced it an absurdity 
that an ofl&cer holding such an important post as Ticonderoga 
should be under the absolute orders of another one hundred 
miles distant, engaged in treaties with Indians and busied in 
the duties of a provedore. The establishment of commands 
in departments was entirely wrong; there should be a com- 
mander-in-chief, and commanders of the different armies. 

We gather these scanty particulars from a letter addressed 
to Gates by Mr. Lovell. The latter expresses himself with 
a proper spirit. '*I wish,'* writes he, "some course could be 
taken which would suit you both. It is plain all the Northern 
army cannot be intended for the single garrison of Ticonderoga. 
Who then has the distribution of the members? This must 
depend on one opinion, or there can be no decision in the de- 
fense of the Northern frontiers. It is an unhappy circumstance 
that such is the altercation at the opening of the campaign." 

This letter produced an anxious reply: *'Why," writes 
Gates, **when the argument in support of General Schuy- 
ler's command was imposed upon Congress, did not you or 
somebody say, *the second post upon this continent next cam- 

40G U/orKs of U/asI^ip^tor) Iruir^^ 

paign will be at or near Peekskill. There General Schuyler 
ought to go and command; that will be the curb in the 
mouth of the New York tories, and the enemy's army. He 
will then be near the Convention, and in the center of the 
colony, have a military chest, and all the insignia of office.' 
This command in honor could not be refused, without own- 
ing there is something moi-e alluring than command to Gen- 
eral Schuyler, by fixing him at Albany. By urging this 
matter home you would have proved the man. He would 
have resigned all command, have accepted the government 
of New York, and been fixed to a station where he must do 
good, and which could not interfere with, or prevent any 
arrangement Congress have made, or may hereafter make. 
Unhappy State ! That has but one man in it who can fix 
the wavering minds of its inhabitants to the side of freedom ! 
How could you sit patiently, and, uncontradicted, suffer such 
impertinence to be crammed down your throats?" 

**Why is it nonsense," pursues Gates, *'to station the 
commanding general in the Northern department at Ticon- 
deroga? Was it not the uniform practice of the royal army 
all last war? Nothing is more certain than that the enemy 
must first possess that single rock before they can penetrate 
the country. ... It is foolish in the extreme to believe the 
enemy this year can form any attack from the northward 
but by Ticonderoga. Where, then, ought the commanding 
general to be posted? Certainly at Ticonderoga. If Gen- 
eral Schuyler is solely to possess all the power, all the intelli- 
gence, and that particular favorite, the military chest, and 
constantly reside at Albany, I cannot, with any peace of 
mind, serve at Ticonderoga." * 

* Letter to James Lovell, of Massachusetts. Gates's 
Papers, N. Y. Hist. Library. 

Cife of U/asl^ipi^tor) 407 

This letter was dispatched by private hand to Phila- 

While Gates was in this mood, his aid-de-camp, Major 
Troup, reported an unsuccessful application to the command- 
er-in-chief for tents. In the petulance of the moment. Gates 
addressed the following letter to Washington : *' Major Troup, 
upon being disappointed in procuring tents at Fishkill, ac- 
quaints me that he went to headquarters to implore your Ex- 
cellency's aid in that particular for the Northern army. He 
says your Excellency told him you should want every tent 
upon the continent for the armies to the southward, and that 
you did not see any occasion the Northern army could have 
for tents, for, being a fixed post, they might hut. Refusing 
this army what you have not in your power to bestow is 
one thing," adds Gates, "but saying that this army has not 
the same necessities as the Southern armies is another. I 
can assure your Excellency the service of the northward re- 
quires tents as much as any service I ever saw." * 

However indignant Washington may have felt at the dis- 
respectful tone of this letter, and the unwarrantable imputa- 
tion of sectional partiality contained in it, he contented him- 
self with a grave and measured rebuke. "Can you suppose," 
writes he, "if there had been an ample supply of tents for 
the whole army, that I should have hesitated one moment in 
complying with your demand? I told Major Troup that on 
account of our loss at Danbury there would be a scarcity of 
tents; that our army would be a moving one, and that con- 
sequently nothing but tents would serve our turn ; and that, 
therefore, as there would be the greatest probability of your 
being stationary, you should endeavor to cover your troops 

* Gates's Papers. 

408 U/orl^s of U/ast^iQ^tOQ Iruip^ 

with barracks and huts. Certainly this was not a refusal of 
tents, but a request that you should, in our contracted situa- 
tion, make every shift to do without them, or at least with 
as few as possible. 

**The Northern army is, and ever has been, as much the 
object of my care and attention as the one immediately un- 
der my command. ... I will make particular inquiry of 
the quartermaster-general, concerning his prospect and ex- 
pectations as to the article of tents ; and if, as I said before, 
there appears a sufficiency for the whole army, you shall 
most willingly have your share. But if there is not, surely 
that army whose movement is uncertain must give up its 
claims for the present to that which must inevitably take the 
field the moment the weather will admit, and must continue 
in it the whole campaign." * 

Notwithstanding this reply, Gates insisted in imputing 
sectional partiality to the commander-in-chief, and sought to 
impart the same idea to Congress. ''Either I am exceed- 
ingly dull or unreasonably jealous," writes he to his corre- 
spondent, Mr. Lovell, *4f I do not discover, by the style and 
tenor of the letters from Morristown, how little I nave to ex- 
pect from thence. Generals are so far like parsons, they are 
all for christening their own child first ; but let an impartial 
moderating power decide between us, and do not suffer 
Southern prejudices to weigh heavier in the balance than 
the Northern." f A letter from Mr. Lovell, dated the 2'6d 
of May, put an end to the suspense of the general with re- 
spect to his position. *' Misconceptions of past resolves and 
consequent jealousies," writes he, *'have produced a defini- 

* Washington's Writings. Sparks, iv. 427. 
t Gates's Papers, N. Y. Hist. Lib. 

Cife of \JJzs\)'iT)(^tor) 409 

tion of the Northern department, and General Schuyler is 
ordered to take command of it. The resolve, also, which 
was thought to fix headquarters at Albany is repealed." 

Such a resolve had actually been passed on the 22d, and 
Albany, Ticonderoga, Fort Stanwix, and their dependencies, 
were thenceforward to be considered as forming the North- 
ern department. The envoy of Gates, bearing the letter in 
which he had carved out a command for Schuyler at Peeks- 
kill, arrived at Philadelphia too late. The general was al- 
ready provided for. 

Schuyler was received with open arms at Albany, on the 
3d of June. **I had the satisfaction," writes he, "to experi- 
ence the finest feelings which my country expressed on my 
arrival and reappointment. The day after my arrival, the 
whole county committee did me the honor in form to con- 
gratulate me." 

Gates was still in Albany, delaying to proceed with Gen- 
eral Fermois to Ticonderoga until the garrison should be 
sufficiently strengthened. Although the resolve of Congress 
did but define his position, which had been misunderstood, 
he persisted in considering himself degraded ; declined serv- 
ing under General Schuyler, who would have given him the 
post at Ticonderoga in his absence; and obtaining permis- 
sion to leave the department, set out on the 9th for Phila- 
delphia to demand redress of Congress. 

General St. Clair was sent to take command of the troops 
at Ticonderoga, accompanied by General de Fermois. As 
the whole force in the Northern department would not be 
sufficient to command the extensive works there on both sides 
of the lake, St. Clair was instructed to bestow his first atten- 
tion in fortifying Mount Independence, on the east side, 

Schuyler considering it much the most defensible, and that 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 18 

410 U/orKs of U/asl^ipi^top Iruip^ 

it might be made capable of sustaining a long and vigorous 

*'I am fully convinced," writes he, ''that between two 
and three thousand men can effectually maintain Mount 
Independence and secure the pass." 

It would be imprudent, he thought, to station the greater 
part of the forces at Fort Ticonderoga ; as, should the enemy 
be able to invest it, and cut off the communication with the 
country on the east side, it might experience a disaster simi- 
lar to that at Fort Washington. 

The orders of Schuyler to officers commanding posts in 
the department are characterized by his Dutch attention to 
cleanliness as to the quarters of the soldiers, their bedding, 
clothing, and equipments. 

All officers mounting guard were to have their hair 
dressed and powdered. The adjutants of the several corps 
were to be particularly careful that none of the non-commis- 
sioned officers and soldiers mount guard without having their 
hair dressed and powdered, their persons perfectly clean, and 
their arms and accouterments in the most complete order. 

While Schuyler was thus providing for the security of 
Ticonderoga, and enforcing cleanliness in his department, 
Gates was wending his way to Philadelphia, his bosom swell- 
ing with imaginary wrongs. He arrived there on the 18th. 
The next day at noon, Mr. Roger Sherman, an Eastern dele- 
gate, informed Congress that General Gates was waiting at 
the door, and wished admittance. 

"For what purpose?" it was asked. 

"To communicate intelligence of importance," replied Mr. 

Gates was accordingly ushered in, took his seat in an el- 
bow chair, and proceeded to give some news concerning the 

Clfe of lI/a8l7ir>($tor7 411 

Indians ; their friendly dispositions, their delight at seeing 
French officers in the American service, and other matters 
of the kind; then drawing forth some papers from his 
pocket, he opened upon the real object of his visit; stating 
from his notes, in a flurried and disjointed manner, the easy 
and happy life he had left to take up arms for the liberties 
of America; and how strenuously he had exerted himself 
in its defense; how that some time in March he had been 
appointed to a command in the Northern department; but 
that a few days ago, without having given any cause of 
offense, without accusation, without trial, without hearing, 
without notice, he had received a resolution by which 
he was, in a most disgraceful manner, superseded in his 
command. Here his irritated feelings got the better of his 
judgment, and he indulged in angry reproaches of Congress, 
and recitals of a conversation which had taken place between 
him and Mr. Duane, a member of the House, whom he con- 
sidered his enemy. Here Mr. Duane rose, and addressing 
himself to the president, hoped the general would observe 
order, and cease any personal observations, as he could not, 
in Congress, enter into any controversy with him upon the 
subject of former conversations. 

Other of the members took fire; the conduct of the 
general was pronounced disrespectful to the House and unr 
worthy of himself, and it was moved and seconded that he 
be requested to withdraw. Some of the Eastern delegates 
opposed the motion, and endeavored to palliate his conduct. 
A wordy clamor ensued, during which the general stood, 
his papers in his hand, endeavoring several times to be heard ; 
but the clamor increasing, he withdrew with the utmost in- 
dignation. It was then determined that he should not again 
be admitted on the floor; but should be informed that Con- 

4l3 U/or^s of \JJaB\)iT)(^\:or) Iruip($ 

gress were ready and willing to hear, by way of memorial, 
any grievances of which he might have to complain.* 


The Highland Passes of the Hudson — George Clinton in Command 
of the Forts — His Measures for Defense — Generals Greene and 
Knox examine the State of the Forts — Their Report — The gen- 
eral Command of the Hudson offered to Arnold — Declined by 
him — Given to Putnam — Appointment of Dr. Craik to the Medi- 
cal Department — Expedition planned against Fort Independence 
— But relinquished — Washington shifts his Camp to Middle- 
brook — State of his Army — General Howe crosses into the Jer- 
seys — Position of the two Armies at Middlebrook and behind 
the Raritan — Correspondence between Washington and Colonel 

The Highland passes of the Hudson, always objects of 
anxious thought to Washington, were especially so at this 
juncture. General McDougall still commanded at Peeks- 
kill, and General George Clinton, who resided at New 
Windsor, had command of the Highland forts. The latter, 
at the earnest request of the New York Convention, had re- 
ceived from Congress the command of brigadier-general in 
the Continental army. "My precarious state of health and 
want of military knowledge," writes he, "would have rather 
induced me to have led a more retired life than that of the 
army, had I been consulted on the occasion ; but as, early in 
the present contest, I laid it down as a maxim not to refuse 
my best, though poor services, to my country in any way 
they should think proper to employ me, I cannot refuse the 
honor done me in the present employment." f 

* Letter of the Hon. Wm. Duer. Schuyler's Papers. 
t Clinton to Washington. 

Cife of Ufzs})lT)<^tOT) 413 

He was perfectly sincere in what he said. George CHn- 
ton was one of the soldiers of the Revolution who served 
from a sense of duty, not from military inclination or a thirst 
for glory. A long career of public service in various capaci- 
ties illustrated his modest worth and devoted patriotism. 

When the ** unhappy affair of Peekskill" had alarmed the 
Convention of N"ew York for the safety of the forts on the 
Highlands, Clinton, authorized by that body, had ordered 
out part of the militia of Orange, Dutchess, and Westchester 
counties, without waiting for Washington's approbation of 
the measure. He had strengthened, also, with anchors and 
cables, the chain drawn across the river at Fort Montgom- 
ery. *'Had the Convention suffered me to have paid my 
whole attention to this business," writes he to Washington 
(18th April), '4t would have been nearly completed by this 

A few days later came word that several transports were 
anchored at Dobb's Ferry in the Tappan Sea. It might be 
intended to divert attention from a movement toward the 
Delaware; or to make incursions into the country back of 
Morristown, seize on the passes through the mountains, and 
cut off the communication between the army and the Hud- 
son. To frustrate such a design, Washington ordered Clin- 
ton to post as good a number of troops from his garrison as 
he could spare, on the mountains west of the river. 

In the month of May, he writes to General McDougall : 
*'The imperfect state of the fortifications of Fort Montgom- 
ery gives me great uneasiness, because I think, from a con- 
currence of circumstances, that it begins to look as if the 
enemy intended to turn their view toward the North River 
instead of the Delaware. I therefore desire that General 
George Clinton, and yourself, will fall upon every measure 

ili U/orKs of U/a8l?ip^toi) IruiQ^ 

to put the fortifications in such a state that theymay at least 
resist a sudden attack, and keep the enemy employed till re- 
enforcements may arrive. If the North River is their ob- 
ject, they cannot accomplish it unless they withdraw their 
forces from the Jerseys, and that they cannot do unknown 
to us." 

On the 12th of May, General Greene received instruc- 
tions from Washington to proceed to the Highlands, and ex- 
amine the state and condition of the forts, especially Fort 
Montgomery; the probability of an attack by water, the 
practicabiHty of an approach by land ; where and how this 
could be effected, and the eminences whence the forts could 
be annoyed. This done, and the opinions of the general offi- 
cers present having been consulted, he was to give such or- 
ders and make such disposition of the troops as might appear 
necessary for the greater security of the passes by land and 
water. When reconnoitering the Highlands in the preceding 
year, Washington had remarked a wild and rugged pass on 
the western side of the Hudson round Bull Hill, a rockj^ for- 
est-clad mountain, forming an advance rampart at the en- 
trance to Peekskill Bay. *'This pass," he observed, ''should 
also be attended to, lest the enemy by a coup de main should 
possess themselves of it before a sufficient force could be 
assembled to oppose them.^^ Subsequent events will illus- 
trate, though unfortunately, the sagacity and foresight of 
this particular instruction. 

General Knox was associated with General Greene in 
this visit of inspection. They examined the river and the 
passes of the Highlands in company with Generals Mc- 
Dougall, George Clinton, and Anthony AYayne. The lat- 
ter, recently promoted to the rank of brigadier, had just 
returned from Ticonderoga. The five generals made a joint 

Cife of U/a8!7ii><$tor) 415 

report to Washington, in which they recommended the com- 
pletion of the obstructions in the river already commenced. 
These consisted of a boom, or heavy iron chain, across the 
river from Fort Montgomery to Anthony's Nose, with cables 
stretched in front to break the force of any ship under way, 
before she should strike it. The boom was to be protected 
by the guns of two ships and two row galleys stationed just 
above it, and by batteries on shore. This, it was deemed, 
would be sufficient to prevent the enemy's ships from ascend- 
ing the river. If these obstructions could be rendered effect- 
ive, they did not think the enemy would attempt to operate 
by land; *'the passes through the Highlands being so exceed- 
ingly difficult. ■ ' 

The general command of the Hudson, from the number 
of troops to be assembled there, and the variety of points to 
be guarded, was one of the most important in the service, 
and required an officer of consummate energy, activity, and 
judgment. It was a major-general's command, and as such 
was offered by "Washington to Arnold; intending thus pub- 
licly to manifest his opinion of his deserts, and hoping, by 
giving him so important a post, to appease his irritated 

Arnold, however, declined to accept it. In an interview 
with Washington at Morristown, he alleged his anxiety to 
proceed to Philadelphia and settle his public accounts, which 
were of considerable amount ; especially as reports had been 
circulated injurious to his character as a man of integrity. 
He intended, therefore, to wait on Congress, and request a 
committee of inquiry into his conduct. Besides, he did not 
consider the promotion conferred on him by Congress suffi- 
cient to obviate their previous neglect, as it did not give him 
the rank he had a claim to, from seniority in the line of 

4l6 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruir)^ 

brigadiers. In their last resolve respecting him, they had 
acknowledged him competent to the station of major-general, 
and, therefore, had done away every objection impHed by 
their former omission. With these considerations, he pro- 
ceeded to Philadelphia, bearing a letter from Washington to 
the President of Congress, countenancing his complaints, 
and testifying to the excellence of his military character. 
We may here add that the accusations against him were pro- 
nounced false and slanderous by the Board of War; and the 
report of the board was confirmed by Congress, but that 
Arnold was still left aggrieved and unredressed in point of 

The important command of the Hudson, being declined 
by Arnold, was now given to Putnam, who repaired forth- 
with to Peekskill. General McDougall was requested hy 
Washington to aid the veteran in gaining a knowledge of 
the post. **You are well acquainted," writes he, *Svith the 
old gentleman's temper; he is active, disinterested, and open 
to conviction." 

Putnam set about promptly to carry into effect the meas- 
ures of security which Greene and Knox had recommended; 
especially the boom and chain at Fort Montgomery, about 
which General George Clinton had busied himself. Putnam 
had a peculiar fancy for river obstructions of the kind= A 
large part of the New York and New England troops were 
stationed at this post, not merely to guard the Hudson, but 
to render aid either to the Eastern or Middle States in case 
of exigency. 

About this time, Washington had the satisfaction of 
drawing near to him his old friend and traveling compan- 
ion, Dr. James Craik, the same who had served with him in 
Braddock's campaign, and had voyaged with him down the 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^tor? 417 

Ohio ; for whom he now procured the appointment of assist- 
ant director-general of the Hospital department of the mid- 
dle district, which included the States between the Hudson 
and the Potomac. In offering the situation to the doctor, he 
writes, "You know how far you may be benefited or injured 
by such an appointment, and whether it is advisable or prac- 
ticable for you to quit your family and practice at this time. 
I request, as a friend, that my proposing this matter to you 
may have no influence upon your acceptance of it. I have 
no other end in view than to serve you." Dr. Craik, it 
will be found, remained his attached and devoted friend 
through life. 

It had been Washington's earnest wish, in the early part 
of the spring, to take advantage of the inactivity of the 
enemy and attempt some ''capital stroke" for the benefit of 
the next campaign ; but the want of troops prevented him. 
He now planned a night expedition for Putnam, exactly 
suited to the humor of the old general. He was to descend 
the Hudson in boats, surprise Fort Independence at Spyt den 
Duivel Creek, capture the garrison, and sweep the road be- 
tween that post and the Highlands. Putnam was all on fire 
for the enterprise, when movements on the part of the enemy, 
seemingly indicative of a design upon Philadelphia, obliged 
Washington to abandon the project, and exert all his vigi- 
lance in watching the hostile operations in the Jerseys. 

Accordingly, toward the end of May, he broke up his 
cantonments at Morristown, and shifted his camp to Middle- 
brook, within ten miles of Brunswick. His whole force fit 
for duty was now about seven thousand three hundred men, 
all from the States south of the Hudson. There were forty- 
three regiments, forming ten brigades, commanded by Briga- 
diers Muhlenberg, Weedon, Woodford, Scott, Smallwood, 

418 U/orKs of U/a8l?io<Jtor) Irulr)^ 

Deborre, Wayne, Dehaas, Conway, and Maxwell. These 
were apportioned into five divisions of two brigades each, 
under Major-generals Greene, Stephen, Sullivan, Lincoln, 
and Stirling. The artillery was commanded by Knox. Sul- 
livan, with his division, was stationed on the right at Prince- 
ton. With the rest of his force, Washington fortified him- 
self in a position naturally strong, among hills, in the rear 
of the village of Middlebrook. His camp was, on all sides, 
difficult of approach, and he rendered it still more so by in- 
trenchments. The high grounds about it commanded a wide 
view of the country around Brunswick, the road to Phila- 
delphia, and the course of the Raritan, so that the enemy 
could make no important movement on land, without his 
perceiving it. 

It was now the beautiful season of the year, and the 
troops from their height beheld a fertile and well-cultivated 
country spread before them, *' painted with meadows, green 
fields, and orchards, studded with villages, and affording 
abundant supplies and forage." A part of their duty was 
to guard it from the ravage of the enemy, while they held 
themselves ready to counteract his movements in every di» 

On the 31st of May, reports were brought to camp that a 
fleet of a hundred sail had left New York, and stood out to 
sea. Whither bound, and how freighted, was unknown. If 
they carried troops, their destination might be Delaware 
Bay. Eighteen transports, also, had arrived at New York, 
with troops in foreign uniforms. Were they those which 
had been in Canada, or others immediately from Germany? 
Those who had reconnoitered them with glasses could not 
tell. All was matter of anxious conjecture. 

Lest the flef^t which had put to sea should be bound 

Cife of U/a8l7ip9top 419 

further south than Delaware Bay, "Washington instantly 
wrote to Patrick Henry, at that time Governor of Virginia, 
putting him on his guard. ''Should this fleet arrive on your 
coast, and the enemy penetrate the country, or make incur- 
sions, I would recommend that the earliest opposition be 
made by parties and detachments of militia, without waiting 
to collect a large body. I am convinced that this would be 
attended with the most salutary consequences, and that 
greater advantages would be derived from it than by de- 
ferring the opposition till you assemble a number equal to 
that of the enemy." 

The troops in foreign uniforms which had landed from 
the transports proved to be Anspachers, and other German 
mercenaries; there were British re-enforcements also; and, 
what was particularly needed, a supply of tents and camp 
equipage. Sir William Howe had been waiting for the lat- 
ter, and likewise until the ground should be covered with 

The country was now in full verdure, affording "green 
forage" in abundance, and all things seemed to Sir William 
propitious for the opening of the campaign. Early in June, 
therefore, he gave up ease and gayety, and luxurious life at 
'Rew York, and, crossing into the Jerseys, set up his head- 
quarters at Brunswick. 

As soon as Washington ascertained that Sir William's at- 
tention was completely turned to this quarter, he determined 
to strengthen his position with all the force that could be 
spared from other parts, so as to be able, in case a favorable 
opportunity presented, to make an attack upon the enemy; 

* Evidence of Major-general Grey before the House of 

420 U/orKs of \Uas\)iT)<^\:or) Iruir)^ 

in the meantime, he would harass them with his light mi- 
litia troops, aided by a few Continentals, so as to weaken 
their numbers by continual skirmishes. With this view, he 
ordered General Putnam to send down most of the Continen- 
tal troops from Peekskill, leaving only a number sufficient, in 
conjunction with the militia, to guard that post against sur- 
prise. They were to proceed in three divisions under Gen- 
erals Parsons, McDougall, and Glover, at one day's march 
distant from each other. 

Arnold, in this critical juncture, had been put in com- 
mand of Philadelphia, a post which he had been induced to 
accept, although the question of rank had not been adjusted 
to his satisfaction. His command embraced the western 
bank of the Delaware, with all its fords and passes, and 
he took up his station there with a strong body of militia, 
supported by a few Continentals, to oppose any attempt of 
the enemy to cross the river. He was instructed by Wash- 
ington to give him notice by expresses, posted on the road, if 
any fleet should appear in Delaware Bay ; and to endeavor 
to concert signals with the camp of Sullivan at Princeton, by 
alarm fires upon the hills. 

On the night of the 13th of June, General Howe saUied 
forth in great force from Brunswick, as if pushing directly 
for the Delaware; but his advanced guard halted at Somer- 
set court-house, about eight or nine miles distant. Apprised 
of this movement, Washingt;on at daybreak reconnoitered 
the enemy from the heights before the camp. He observed 
their front halting at the court-house, but a few miles dis- 
tant, while troops and artillery were grouped here and there 
along the road, and the rearguard was still at Brunswick. 
It was a question with Washington and his generals, as they 
reconnoitered the enemy with their glasses, whether this was 

Cife of U/a8l?ir?($too 421 

a real move toward Philadelphia, or merely a lure to tempt 
them down from their strong position. In this uncertainty, 
Washington drew out his army in battle array along the 
heights, but kept quiet. In the present state of his forces it 
was his plan not to risk a general action ; but, should the 
enemy really march toward the Delaware, to hang heavily 
upon their rear. Their principal difficulty would be in cross- 
ing that river, and there, he trusted, they would meet with 
spirited opposition from the Continental troops and militia, 
stationed on the western side under Arnold and Mifflin. 

The British took up a strong position, having Millstone 
Creek on their left, the Karitan all along their front, and 
their right resting on Brunswick, and proceeded to fortify 
themselves with bastions. 

While thus anxiously situated, Washington, on the 14th, 
received a letter from Colonel Reed, his former secretary and 
confidential friend. A coolness had existed on the general's 
part, ever since he had unwarily opened the satirical letter of 
General Lee ; yet he had acted toward Reed with his habit- 
ual high-mindedness, and had recently nominated him as 
general of cavalry. The latter had deeply deplored the in- 
terruption of their once unreserved intercourse ; he had long, 
he said, desired to have one hour of private conversation 
with Washington on the subject of Lee's letter, but had de- 
ferred it in the hope of obtaining his own letter to which that 
was an answer. In that he had been disappointed by Lee's 
captivity. On the present occasion, Reed's heart was full, 
and he refers to former times in language that is really 
touching : 

**I am sensible, my dear sir," writes he, **how difficult it 
is to regain lost friendship ; but the consciousness of never 
having justly forfeited yours, and the hope that it may be 

4:22 U/orKs of U/a8l?ip($tor> Iruir)^ 

in my power fully to convince you of it, are some consola- 
tion for an event which 1 never think of but with the great- 
est concern. In the meantime, my dear general, let me en- 
treat you to judge of me by realities, not by appearances; 
and believe that I never entertained or expressed a senti- 
ment incompatible with that regard I professed for your per- 
son and character, and which, whether I shall be so happy 
as to possess your future good opinion or not, I shall carry 
to my grave with me. 

*'A late perusal of the letters you honored me with at 
Cambridge and New York, last year, afforded me a melan- 
choly pleasure. I cannot help acknowledging myself deeply 
affected in a comparison with those which I have since re- 
ceived. I should not, my dear sir, have trespassed on your 
time and patience at this juncture so long, but that a former 
letter upon this subject I fear has miscarried; and whatever 
may be my future destination and course of life, I could not 
support the reflection of being thought ungrateful and insin- 
cere to a friendship which was equally my pride and my 
pleasure. May God Almighty crown your virtue, my dear 
and much respected general, with deserved success, and 
make your life as happy and honorable to yourself as it has 
been useful to your country. ' ' 

The heart of Washington was moved by this appeal, and 
though in the midst of military preparations, with a hostile 
army at hand, he detained Colonel Reed's messenger long 
enough to write a short letter in reply: "To thank you," 
said he, "as I do most sincerely, for the friendly and affec- 
tionate sentiments contained in yours toward me, and to 
assure you that I am perfectly convinced of the sincerity 
of them. 

"True it is, I felt myself hurt by a certain letter, which 

Cife of U/a8l?ir7<$toi> 433 

appeared at that time to be the echo of one from you ; I was 
hurt — not because I thought my judgment wronged by the 
expressions contained in it, but because the same sentiments 
were not communicated immediately to myself. The favor- 
able manner in which your opinions, upon all occasions, had 
been received, the impressions they made, and the unre- 
served manner in which I wished and required them to be 
given, entitled me, I thought, to your advice upon any point 
in which I appeared to be wanting. To meet with anything, 
then, that carried with it a complexion of withholding that 
advice from me, and censuring my conduct to another, was 
such an argument of disingenuity that I was not a little 
mortified at it. However, I am perfectly satisfied that 
matters were not as they appeared from the letter al- 
luded to." 

Washington was not of a distrustful spirit. From this 
moment we are told that all estrangement disappeared, and 
the ancient relations of friendly confidence between him and 
Colonel Reed were restored.* His whole conduct through- 
out the affair bears evidence of his candor and magnanimity. 

* Life of Reed, by his grandson. 

434 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^jtOQ Iruip^ 


Feigned Movements of Sir William Howe — Baffling Caution of 
Washington — Rumored Inroads from the North — Schuyler ap- 
plies for Re-enforcements — Renewed Schemes of Howe to draw 
Washington from his Stronghold — Skirmish between Cornwal- 
lis and Lord Stirling — The Enemy evacuate the Jerseys — Per- 
plexity as to their next Movement — A Hostile Fleet on Lake 
Champlain — Burgoyne approaching Ticonderoga — Speculations 
of Washington — His Purpose of keeping Sir William Howe from 
ascending the Hudson — Orders George Clinton to call out Mi- 
litia from Ulster and Orange Counties — Sends Sullivan toward 
the Highlands — Moves his own Camp back to Morristown — Stir 
among the Shipping — Their Destination surmised to be Phila- 
delphia — A Dinner at Headquarters — Alexander Hamilton — 
Gray don's Rueful Description of the Army— His Character of 

The American and British armies, strongly posted, as 
we have shown, the former along the heights of Middle- 
brook, the other beyond the Raritan, remained four days 
grimly regarding each other; both waiting to be attacked. 
The Jersey militia, which now turned out with alacrity, re- 
paired some to Washington's camp, others to that of Sulli- 
van. The latter had fallen back from Princeton and taken 
a position behind the Sourland Hills. 

Howe pushed out detachments and made several feints, 
as if to pass by the American camp and march to the Dela- 
ware ; but Washington was not to be deceived. "The enemy 
will not move that way," said he, /'until they have given 
this army a severe blow. The risk would be too great to at- 
tempt to cross a river where they must expect to meet a for- 
midable oppositon in front, and would have such a force as 

Cife of U/a8l?ii><$top 425 

ours in their rear." He kept on the heights, therefore, and 
strengthened his intrenchments. 

Baffled in these attempts to draw his cautious adversary 
into a general action, Howe, on the 19th, suddenly broke up 
his camp, and pretended to return with some precipitation to 
Brunswick, burning as he went several valuable dwelling- 
houses. Washington's light troops hovered round the enemy 
as far as the Raritan and Millstone, which secured their 
flanks, would permit; but the main army kept to its strong- 
hold on the heights. 

On the next day came warlike news from the North. 
Amesbury, a British spy, had been seized and examined by 
Schuyler. Burgoyne was stated as being arrived at Quebec 
to command the forces in an invasion from Canada. While 
he advanced with his vain force by Lake Champlain, a de- 
tachment of British troops, Canadians, and Indians, led by 
Sir John Johnson, was to penetrate by Oswego to the Mo- 
hawk River, and place itself between Fort Stanwix and Fort 

If this information was correct, Ticonderoga would soon 
be attacked. The force there might be sufficient for its de- 
fense, but Schuyler would have no troops to oppose the in- 
road of Sir John Johnson, and he urged a re-enforcement. 
Washington forthwith sent orders to Putnam to procure 
sloops, and hold four Massachusetts regiments in readiness 
to go up the river at a moment's warning. Still, if the in- 
formation of the spy was correct, he doubted the ability of 
the enemy to carry the reported plan into effect. It did not 
appear that Burgoyne had brought any re -enforcements from 
Europe. If so, he could not move with a greater force than 
five thousand men. The garrison at Ticonderoga was suffi- 
ciently strong, according to former accounts, to hold it 

42(5 U/or^s of U/a8l?ip^tor) Iruii)^ 

against an attack. Burgoyne certainly would never leave 
it in his rear, and if he invested it, he would not have a 
sufficient number left to send one body to Oswego and an- 
other to cut off the communications between Fort Edward 
and Fort George. Such was "Washington's reasoning in 
reply to Schuyler. In the meantime, he retained his mind 
unflurried by these new rumors; keeping from his heights 
a vigilant eye upon General Howe. 

On the 22d, Sir WiUiam again marched out of Bruns- 
wick, but this time proceeded toward Amboy, again burning 
several houses on the way; hoping, perhaps, that the sight 
of columns of smoke rising from a ravaged country would 
irritate the Americans and provoke an attack. Washington 
Bent out three brigades under General Greene to fall upon 
the rear of the enemy, while Morgan hung upon their skirts 
with his riflemen. At the same time the army remained 
paraded on the heights, ready to yield support, if necessary. 

Finding that Howe had actually sent his heavy baggage 
and part of his troops over to Staten Island by a bridge 
of boats which he had thrown across, Washington, on the 
24th, left the heights and descended to Quibbletown (now 
New Market), six or seven miles on the road to Amboy, to 
be nearer at hand for the protection of his advanced parties ; 
while Lord Stirling with his division and some light troops 
was at Matouchin church, closer to the enemy's lines, to 
watch their motions, and be ready to harass them while 
crossing to the island. 

General Howe now thought he had gained his point. 
Recalling those who had crossed, he formed his troops into 
two columns, the right led by Cornwallis, the left by him- 
self, and marched back rapidly by different routes from Am- 
boy. He had three objects in view: to cut off the principal 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tor) 427 

advanced parties of the Americans ; to come up with and 
bring the main body into an engagement near Quibbletown ; 
or that Lord CornwaUis, making a considerable circuit to the 
right, should turn the left of Washington's position, get to 
the heights, take possession of the passes, and oblige him 
to abandon that stronghold where he had hitherto been so 
secure.* Washington, however, had timely notice of his 
movements, and, penetrating his design, regained his forti- 
fied camp at Middlebrook, and secured the passes of the 
mountains. He then detached a body of light troops under 
Brigadier-general Scott, together with Morgan's riflemen, to 
hang on the flank of the enemy and watch their motions. 

CornwaUis, in his circuitous march, dispersed the light 
parties of the advance, but fell in with Lord Stirling's divis- 
ion, strongly posted in a woody country, and well covered 
by artillery judiciously disposed. A sharp skirmish ensued, 
when the Americans gave way and retreated to the hills, 
with the loss of a few men and three field-pieces; while the 
British halted at Westfield, disappointed in the main objects 
of their enterprise. They remained at Westfield until the 
afternoon of the 27th, when they moved toward Spanktown 
(now Rah way), plundering all before them, and, it is said, 
burning several houses ; but pursued and harassed the whole 
way by the American light troops, f 

Perceiving that every scheme of bringing the Americans 
to a general action, or at least of withdrawing them from 
their strongholds, was rendered abortive by the caution and 
prudence of Washington, and aware of the madness of at- 
tempting to march to the Delaware, through a hostile coun- 

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 247. 

f Letter to the President of Congress, 28th June, 1777. 

428 U/orKs of U/a8}?ir>^too Iruir>^ 

try, with such a force in his rear, Sir William Howe broke 
up his headquarters at Amboy on the last of June, and 
crossed over to Staten Island on the floating bridge; his 
troops that were encamped opposite to Amboy struck their 
tents on the following day and marched off to the old camp° 
ing ground on the Bay of New York; the ships got under 
way, and moved down round the island ; and it was soon 
apparent that, at length, the enemy had really evacuated the 

The question now was, what would be their next move? 
A great stir among the shipping seemed to indicate an expe- 
dition by water. But whither? Circumstances occurred to 
perplex the question. 

Scarce had the last tent been struck, and the last trans- 
port disappeared from before Amboy, when intelligence ar= 
rived from General St. Clair announcing the appearance of 
a hostile fleet on Lake Cham plain, and that General Bur- 
goyne with the whole Canada army was approaching Ticon- 
deroga. The judgment and circumspection of "Washington 
were never more severely put to the proof. "Was this merely 
a diversion with a small force of light troops and Indians, 
intending to occupy the attention of the American forces in 
that quarter, while the main body of the army in Canada 
should come round by sea, and form a junction with the 
army under Howe? But General Burgoyne, in Washing- 
ton's opinion, was a man of too much spirit and enterprise 
to return from England merely to execute a plan from which 
no honor was to be derived. Did he really intend to break 
through by way of Ticonderoga? In that case it must be 
Howe's plan to co-operate with him. Had all the recent 
maneuvers of the enemy in the Jerseys, which had appeared 
so enigmatical to Washington ; been merely a stratagem to 

Cife of U/a8l?ip<$tOQ 429 

amuse him until they should receive intelligence of the move- 
ments of Burgoyne? If so, Sir William must soon throw off 
the mask. His next move, in such case, would be to ascend 
the Hudson, seize on the Highland passes before Washing- 
ton could form a union with the troops stationed there, and 
thus open the way for the Junction with Burgoyne. Should 
Washington, however, on such a presumption, hasten with 
his troops to Peekskill, leaving General Howe on Staten Isl- 
and, what would prevent the latter from pushing to Phila- 
delphia by South Amboy, or any other route? 

Such were the perplexities and difficulties presenting 
themselves under every aspect of the case, and discussed 
by Washington in his correspondence with his accustomed 
clearness. In this dilemma he sent Generals Parsons and 
Varnum with a couple of brigades in all haste to Peekskill ; 
and wrote to Generals George Clinton and Putnam ; the for- 
mer to call out the New York militia from Orange and Ul- 
ster counties; the latter to summon the militia from Connecti- 
cut; and as soon as such re-enforcements should be at hand, 
to dispatch four of the strongest Massachusetts regiments to 
the aid of Ticonderoga; at the same time the expediency 
was suggested to General Schuyler of having all the cattle 
and vehicles removed from such parts of the country which 
he might think the enemy intended to penetrate. 

General Sullivan, moreover, was ordered to advance with 
his division toward the Highlands, as far as Pompton, while 
Washington moved his own camp back to Morristown, to be 
ready either to push on to the Highlands, or fall back upon 
his recent position at Middlebrook, according to the move- 
ments of the enemy. '*If I can keep General Howe below 
the Highlands," said he, ''I think their schemes will be 
entirely baffled." 

430 . U/orKs of U/ast?io<5tOQ Iruir)<$ 

Deserters from Staten Island and ISTew York soon brought 
word to the camp that transports were being fitted up with 
berths for horses, and taking in three weeks' supply of water 
and provender. All this indicated some other destination 
than that of the Hudson. Lest an attempt on the Eastern 
States should be intended, Washington sent a circular to 
their governors to put them on their guard. 

In the midst of his various cares, his yeoman soldier}^, 
the Jersey militia, were not forgotten. It was their harvest 
time; and, the State being evacuated, there was no immedi- 
ate call for their services ; he dismissed, therefore, almost the 
whole of them to their homes. 

Captain Graydon, whose memoirs we have heretofore 
had occasion to quote, paid a visit to the camp at this junct- 
ure, in company with Colonel Miles and Major West, all 
American prisoners on Long Island, but who had been lib- 
erated on parole. Graydon remarks that, to their great sur- 
prise, they saw no military parade upon their journey, nor 
any indication of martial vigor on the part of the country. 
Here and there a militia man with his contrasted colored 
cape and facings; doubtless some one who had received his 
furlough, and was bound home to his farm. Captains, ma- 
jors, and colonels abounded in the land, but were not to be 
found at the head of their men. 

When he arrived at the camp, he could see nothing which 
deserved the name of army. "I was told, indeed," remarks 
he, *'that it was much weakened by detachments, and I was 
glad to find there was some cause for the present paucity of 
soldiers. I could not doubt, however, that things were go- 
ing on well. The commander-in-chief and all about him 
were in excellent spirits." The three officers waited on 
'Wasnmgton at his marquee m the evening. In the course 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($t<yr> 431 

of conversation, he asked them what they conceived to be 
the objects of General Howe. Colonel Miles replied, a co- 
operation with the Northern 'army , by means of the Hudson. 
Washington acknowledged that indications and probabilities 
tended to that conclusion ; nevertheless, he had little doubt 
the object of Howe was Philadelphia. 

Graydon and his companions dined the next day at head- 
quarters; there was a large party, in which were several 
ladies. Colonel Alexander Hamilton, who, in the preceding 
month of April, had been received into "Washington's family 
as aid-de-camp, presided at the head of the table, and "ac- 
quitted himself,'' writes Graydon, '*with an ease, propriety, 
and vivacity which gave me the most favorable impression 
of his talents and accomplishments." 

We may here observe that the energy, skill and intelli- 
gence displayed by Hamilton throughout the last year's 
campaign, whenever his limited command gave him oppor- 
tunity of evincing them, had won his entrance to headquar- 
ters; where his quick discernment and precocious judgment 
were soon fully appreciated. Strangers were surprised to 
see a youth, scarce twenty years of age, received into the 
implicit confidence and admitted into the gravest counsels 
of a man like Washington. While his uncommon talents 
thus commanded respect, rarely inspired by one of his years, 
his juvenile appearance and buoyant spirit made him a uni- 
versal favorite. Harrison, the '*old secretary," much his 
senior, looked upon him with an almost paternal eye, and re- 
garding his diminutive size and towering spirit, used to cal] 
him "the little lion" ; while Washington would now and then 
speak of him by the cherishing appellation of "my boy." * 

* Communicated to the author by the late Mrs. Hamilton. 
Note, — A veteran officer of the Revolution used to speak in 

432 U/orKs of U/ast^ip^tor) lr\j\r)<^ 

The following is Graydon's amusing account of Wayne, 
whom he visited at his quarters. *'He entertained the most 
sovereign contempt for the enefny. In his confident way, he 
affirmed that the two armies had interchanged their original 
modes of warfare. That for our parts, we had thrown away 
the shovel, and the British had taken it up, as they dared not 
face us without the cover of an intrenchment. I made some 
allowance for the fervid manner of the general, who, though 
unquestionably as brave a man as any in the army, was nev- 
ertheless somewhat addicted to the vaunting style of Mar- 
shal Villars, a man who, like himself, could fight as well as 

Graydon speaks of the motley, shabby clothing of the 
troops. '*Even in General Wayne himself there was in this 
particular a considei*able falling off. His quondam regimen- 
tals as colonel of the 4th battalion were, I think, blue and 
white, in which he had been accustomed to appear with ex- 
emplary neatness *, whereas he was now dressed in character 
for Macheath or Captain Gibbet, in a dingy red coat, with a 
black rusty cravat and tarnished hat." Wayne was doubt- 
less still rusty from his campaigning in the Il^orth. 

Graydon, during his recent captivity, had been accus- 
tomed to the sight of British troops in the completeness of 
martial array, and looked with a rueful eye on patriotism in 
rags. From all that he saw at the camp, he suspected affairs 

his old days of the occasion on which he first saw Hamilton. 
It was during the memorable retreat through the Jerseys. * ' I 
noticed," said he, '*a youth, a mere stripling, small, slender, 
almost delicate in frame, marching beside a piece of artillery, 
with a cocked hat pulled down over his eyes, apparently lost 
in thought, with his hand resting on the cannon, and every 
now and then patting it as he mused, as if it were a favorite 
horse or a pet plaything." 

Cife of U/asl^iQi^toi) 433 

were not in a prosperous train, notwithstanding the cheerful 
countenances at headquarters. There appeared to be a want 
of animated co-operation both on the part of the government 
and the people. "General Washington, with the little rem- 
nant of his army at Morristown, seemed left to scuffle for 
liberty, like another Cato at Utica. ' ' * 

We will now turn to the North, and lift the curtain for 
a moment, to give the reader a glance at affairs in that quar- 
ter about which there were such dubious rumors. 


British Invasion from Canada— The Plan — Composition of the In- 
vading Army — Schuyler on the Alert — His Speculations as to 
the Enemy 's Designs — Burgoyne on Lake Champlain — His War 
Speech to his Indian Allies — Signs of his Approach descried 
from Ticonderoga — Correspondence on the Subject between St. 
Clair, Major Livingston, and Schuyler — Burgoyne intrenches 
near Ticonderoga— His Proclamation —Schuyler's Exertions at 
Albany to forward Re- enforcements — Hears that Ticonderoga 
is Evacuated — Mysterious Disappearance of St. Clair and his 
Troops — Amazement and Concern of Washington — Orders Re- 
enforcements to Schuyler at Fort Edward, and to Putnam at 
Peekskill — Advances with his Main Army to the Clove — His 
Hopeful Spirit manifested 

The armament advancing against Ticonderoga, of which 
General St. Clair had given intelligence, was not a mere 
diversion, but a regular invasion; the plan of which had 
been devised by the king, Lord George Germaine, and Gen- 
eral Burgoyne, the latter having returned to England from 
Canada in the preceding year. The junction of the two 
armies — that in Canada and that under General Howe in 

* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 282. 
Vol. XIIL--***19 

434 (I/orl^s of U/aglpiQ^top Iruir>^ 

Kew York — was considered the speediest mode of quelling 
the rebellion ; and as the security and good government of 
Canada required the presence of Governor Sir Guy Carleton, 
three thousand men were to remain there with him ; the resi- 
due of the army was to be employed upon two expeditions; 
the one under General Burgoyne, who was to force his way 
to Albany, the other under Lieutenant colonel St. Leger, who 
was to make a diversion on the Mohawk River. 

The invading army was composed of three thousand seven 
hundred and twenty-four British rank and file, three thou- 
sand sixteen Germans, mostly Brunswickers, two hundred 
and fifty Canadians, and four hundred Indians ; besides these 
there were four hundred and seventy-three artillery men, in 
all nearly eight thousand men. The army was admirably 
appointed. Its brass train of artillery was extolled as per- 
haps the finest ever allotted to an army of the size. General 
Phillips, who commanded the artillery, had gained great 
reputation in the wars in Germany. Brigadier-generals 
Fraser, Powel, and Hamilton, were also officers of distin- 
guished merit. So was Major-general the Baron Riedesel, 
a Brunswicker, who commanded the German troops. 

While Burgoyne with the main force proceeded from St. 
John's, Colonel St. Leger, with a detachment of regulars 
and Canadians, about seven hundred strong, was to land at 
Oswego, and, guided by Sir John Johnson at the head of his 
loyalist volunteers, tory refugees from his former neighbor- 
hood, and a body of Indians, was to enter the Mohawk coun- 
try, draw the attention of General Schuyler in that direction, 
attack Fort Stanwix, and, having ravaged the valley of the 
Mohawk, rejoin Burgoyne at Albany; where it was expected 
they would make a triumphant junction with the army of 
Sir William Howe. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ<$(:oQ 436 

General Burgoyne left St. John's on the 16th of June. 
Some idea may be formed of his buoyant anticipation of a 
triumphant progress through the country by the manifold 
and lumbering appurtenances of a European camp with 
which his army was encumbered. In this respect he had 
committed the same error in his campaign through a wilder- 
ness of lakes and forests that had once embarrassed the un- 
fortunate Braddock in his march across the mountains of 

Schuyler was uncertain as to the plans and force of the 
enemy. If information gathered from scouts and a captured 
spy might be relied on, Ticonderoga would soon be attacked; 
but he trusted the garrison was sufificient to maintain it. 
This information he transmitted to Washington from Fort 
Edward on the 16th, the very day that Burgoyne embarked 
at St. John's. 

On the following day Schuyler was at Ticonderoga. The 
works were not in such a state of forwardness as he had an- 
ticipated, owing to the tardy arrival of troops and the want 
of a sufficient number of artificers. The works in question 
related chiefly to Mount Independence, a high circular hill 
on the east side of the lake, immediately opposite to the old 
fort, and considered the most defensible. A star fort with 
pickets crowned the summit of the hill, which was table 
land ; half way down the side of a hill was a battery, and at 
its foot were strongly intrenched works well mounted with 
cannon. Here the French general, De Fermois, who had 
charge of this fort, was posted. 

As this part of Lake Champlain is narrow, a connection 
was kept up between the two forts by a floating bridge, sup- 
ported on twenty-two sunken piers in caissons, formed of 
very strong timber. Between the piers were separate floats, 

436 U/orl^s of U/asl7ir)<^tor) Iruip^ 

fifty feet long and twelve feet wide, strongly connected by 
iron chains and rivets. On the north side of the bridge was 
a boom, composed of large pieces of timber, secured by riv- 
eted bolts, and beside this was a double iron chain with links 
an inch and a half square. The bridge, boom, and chain 
were four hundred yards in length. This immense work, 
the labor of months, on which no expense had been spared, 
was intended, while it afforded a communication between the 
two forts, to protect the upper part of the lake, presenting, 
under cover of their guns, a barrier which it was presumed 
no hostile ship would be able to break through. 

Having noted the state of affairs and the wants of the 
garrison, Schuyler hastened to Fort George, whence he sent 
on provisions for upward of sixty days; and from the banks 
of the Hudson additional carpenters and working cattle. 
** Business will now go on in better train, and I hope with 
much more spirit," writes he to Congress; **and I trust we 
shall still be able to put everything in such order as to give 
the enemy a good reception, and, I hope, a repulse, should 
they attempt a real attack, which I conjecture will not be 
soon, if at all; although I expect they will approach with 
their fleet to keep us in alarm, and to draw our attention 
from other quarters where they may mean a real attack." 

His idea was that, while their fleet and a small body of 
troops might appear before Ticonderoga, and keep up con- 
tinual alarms, the main army might march from St. Fran- 
cois or St. John's toward the Connecticut River, and make 
an attempt on the Eastern States. ''A maneuver of this 
kind," observes he, *Svould be in General Burgoyne's way, 
and, if successful, would be attended with much honor to 
him. ... I am the more confirmed in this conjecture, as 
the enemy cannot be ignorant how very diflScult, if not im- 

Cife of U/a8l;^ip^toQ 437 

possible, it will be for them to penetrate to Albany, unless 
in losing Ticonderoga we should lose not only all our can- 
non, but most of the army designed for this depart- 

In the meantime, Burgoyne, with his amphibious and 
semi-barbarous armament, was advancing up the lake. On 
the 21st of June he encamped at the river Boquet, several 
miles north of Crown Point ; here he gave a war feast to his 
savage allies, and made them a speech in that pompous and 
half poetical vein in which it is the absurd practice to ad- 
dress our savages, and which is commonly reduced to flat 
prose by their interpreters. At the same time he was strenu- 
ous in enjoining humanity toward prisoners, dwelling on the 
difference between ordinary wars carried on against a com- 
mon enemy, and this against a country in rebellion, where 
the hostile parties were of the same blood, and loyal subjects 
of the crown might be confounded with the rebellious. It 
was a speech intended to excite their ardor, but restrain their 
cruelty; a difficult medium to attain with Indian warriors. 

The garrison at Ticonderoga meanwhile were anxiously 
on the lookout. Their fortress, built on a hill, commanded 
an extensive prospect over the bright and beautiful lake and 
its surrounding forests, but there were long points and prom- 
ontories at a distance to intercept the view. 

By the 24th, scouts began to bring in word of the ap- 
proaching foe. Bark canoes had been seen filled with white 
men and savages. Then three vessels under sail, and one 
at anchor, above Split Rock, and behind it the radeau 
** Thunderer," noted in last year's naval fight. Anon came 
word of encampments sufficient for a large body of troops, 
on both sides of Gilliland's Creek, with bateaux plying 
about its waters, and painted warriors gliding about in 

4iJ8 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^toi) IruiQ<$ 

canoes; while a number of smokes rising out of the forest 
at a distance beyond gave signs of an Indian camp. 

St. Clair wrote word of all this to Schuyler, and that it 
was supposed the enemy were waiting the arrival of more 
force; he did not, however, think they intended to attack, 
but to harass, for the purpose of giving confidence to the 

Schuyler transmitted a copy of St. Clair's letter to Wash- 
ington. *'If the enemy's object is not to attack Ticonde- 
roga," writes he, *'I suspect their movement is intended to 
cover an attempt on New Hampshire, or the Mohawk River, 
or to cut off the communication between Fort Edward and 
Fort George, or perhaps all three, the more to distract us 
and divide our force." He urged Washington for re-en- 
forcements as soon as possible. At the same time he wrote 
to St. Clair to keep scouts on the east side of the lake near 
the road leading from St. John's to New Hampshire, and on 
the west, on the road leading to the north branch of the 
Hudson. This done, he hastened to Albany to forward re- 
enforcements and bring up the militia. 

While there, he received word from St. Clair that the 
enemy's fleet and army were arrived at Crown Point, and 
had sent off detachments, one up Otter Creek to cut off the 
communication by Skenesborough ; and another on the west 
side of the lake to cut off Fort George. It was evident a real 
attack on Ticonderoga was intended. Claims for assistance 
came hurrying on from other quarters. A large force (St. 
Leger's) was said to be arrived at Oswego, and Sir John 
Johnson with his myrmidons on his way to attack Fort 
Schuyler, the garrison of which was weak and poorly sup- 
plied with cannon. 

Schuyler bestirs himself with his usual zeal amid the 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ<$tor7 439 

thickening alarms. He writes urgent letters to the commit- 
tee of safety of New York, to General Putnam at Peekskill, 
to the Governor of Connecticut, to the President of Massa- 
chusetts, to the committee of Berkshire, and lastly to Wash- 
ington, stating the impending dangers and imploring re-en- 
forcements. He exhorts General Herkimer to keep the 
militia of Tryon County in readiness to protect the west- 
ern frontier and to check the inroad of Sir John Johnson, 
and he assures St. Clair that he will move to his aid with 
the militia of New York as soon as he can collect them. 

Dangers accumulate at Ticonderoga according to advices 
from St. Clair (28th). Seven of the enemy's vessels are 
lying at Crown Point ; the rest of their fleet is probably but 
a little lower down. Morning guns are heard distinctly at 
various places. Some troops have debarked and encamped 
at Chimney Point. There is no prospect, he says, of being 
able to defend Ticonderoga unless militia come in, and he 
has thought of calling in those from Berkshire. ** Should 
the enemy invest and blockade us," writes he, **we are in- 
falKbly ruined ; we shall be obliged to abandon this side (of 
the lake), and then they will soon force the other from us, 
nor do I see that a retreat will in any shape be practicable. 
Everything, however, shall be done that is practicable to 
frustrate the enemy's designs; but what can be expected 
from troops ill armed, naked, and unaccoutered?" 

Schuyler's aid-de-camp, Major Livingston,* who had 
been detained at Ticonderoga by indisposition, writes to him 
(June 30) in a different vein, and presents a young man's 
view of affairs. 

* Henry Brockholst Livingston: in after years Judge of 
the Supreme Court of the United States. 

44:0 U/or^s of U/asI^ir^^tor^ Iruir}^ 

**The enemy, after giving us several alarms, made their 
appearance early this morning off Three Mile Point, in 
eighteen gunboats, and about nine landed a party of two 
or three hundred Indians and Canadians. These soon fell 
in with a scout from us, but being superior in number, 
obliged them to retreat, though without any loss on our 
side. The Indians then marched to the front of the 
French lines, drove in a picket guard, and came so near 
as to wound two men who were standing behind the 
works. They have stopped the communication between 
this and Lake George. 

* * We have a fair view of their boats, but cannot see that 
they have brought many regulars with them. At least the 
number of redcoats in them is very small. The wind having 
been contrary for several days, has prevented their fleet from 
coming up. The first fair breeze I shall expect to see them. 
Many bets are depending that we shall be attacked in the 
course of this week. Our troops are determined, and in 
great spirits. They wish to be permitted to drive the sav- 
ages from Three Mile Point, but General St. Clair chooses 
to act on the sure side, and risk nothing. The few alarms 
we have had have been of great service in making the men 
alert and vigilant; but I am afraid the enemy will repeat 
them so frequently as to throw them into their former in- 
dolence and inattention. General St. Clair has taken the 
precaution to move most of the stores to the mount [Inde- 
pendence]. This moment two ships and as many sloops have 
hove in sight. The spirits of the men seem to increase in 
proportion to the number of the enemy. 

**I cannot but esteem myself fortunate that indisposition 
prevented my returning with you, as it has given me an 
opportunity of being present at a battle, in which I prom- 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 441 

ise myself the pleasure of seeing our army flushed with 
victory." * 

The enemy came advancing up the lake on the 30th, 
their main body under Burgoyne on the west side, the Ger- 
man reserve under Baron Riedesel on the east; communi- 
cation being maintained by frigates and gunboats, which, 
in a manner, kept pace between them. It was a magnificent 
array of warlike means, and the sound of drum and trumpet 
along the shores, and now and then the thundering of a 
cannon from the ships, were singularly in contrast with the 
usual silence of a region little better than a wilderness. 

On the 1st of July, Burgoyne encamped four miles north 
of Ticonderoga, and began to intrench, and to throw a boom 
across the lake. His advanced guard, under General Fraser, 
took post at Three Mile Point, and the ships anchored just 
out of gunshot of the fort. 

Here he issued a proclamation still more magniloquent 
than his speech to the Indians, denouncing woe to all who 
should persist in rebellion, and laying particular stress upon 
his means, with the aid of the Indians, to overtake the 
hardiest enemies of Great Britain and America wherever 
they might lurk. 

General St. Clair was a gallant Scotchman, who had 
seen service in the old French war as well as in this, and 
beheld the force arrayed against him without dismay. It 
is true his garrison was not so numerous as it had been rep- 
resented to Washington, not exceeding three thousand five 
hundred men, of whom nine hundred were militia. They 
were badly equipped also, and few had bayonets; yet, as 
Major Livingston reported, they were in good heart. St. 

* Letter of Major Livingston to General Schuyler, MS. 

442 U/or^s of U/aslpip^top Iruii)^ 

Clair confided, however, in the strength of his position and 
the works which had been constructed in connection with 
it, and trusted he should be able to resist any attempt to 
take it by storm. 

Schuyler at this time was at Albany, sending up re- 
enforcements of Continental troops and militia, and awaiting 
the arrival of further re-enforcements, for which sloops had 
been sent down to Peekskill. 

He was endeavoring also to provide for the security of 
the department in other quarters. The savages had been 
scalping in the neighborhood of Fort Schuyler; a set of 
renegade Indians were harassing the settlements on the Sus- 
quehanna ; and the threatenings of Brant, the famous Indian 
chief, and the prospect of a British inroad by the way of 
Oswego, had spread terror through Tryon County, the 
inhabitants of which called upon him for support. 

**The enemy are harassing us in every quarter of this 
department," writes he. *'I am however, happily, thank 
God, in full health and spirits to enable me to extend my 
attention to those various quarters, and hope we shall all 
do well."* 

The enemy's maneuver of intrenching themselves and 
throwing a boom across the lake, of which St. Clair in- 
formed him, made him doubt of their being in great force, 
or intending a serious attack. **I shall have great hopes," 
writes he to St. Clair, **if General Burgoyne continues in 
the vicinity of your post until we get up, and dares risk an 
engagement, we shall give a good account of him." f 

To General Herkimer, who commanded the militia in 

* Letter to the Hon. George Clymer. 
t Schuyler's Letter Book. 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tOQ 44*3 

Tryon County, he writes in the same encouraging strain. 
''From intelligence which I have just now received from 
Ticonderoga I am not very apprehensive that any great 
effort will be made against the Mohawk River. I shall, 
however, keep a watchful eye to the preservation of the 
western quarter, and have therefore directed Colonel Van 

Schaick to remain in Tryon County with the [Continental] 
troops under his command. 

"If we act with vigor and spirit, we have nothing to fear; 
but if once despondency takes place, the worst consequences 
are to be apprehended. It is, therefore, incumbent on you 
to labor to keep up the spirits of the people." 

In the meantime he awaited the arrival of the troops 
from Peekskill with impatience. On the 5th they had not 
appeared. "The moment they do," writes he, "I shall move 
with them. If they do not arrive by to-morrow, I go with- 
out them, and will do the best I can with the militia." He 
actually did set out at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 7th. 

Such was the state of affairs in the north, of which 
Washington from time to time had been informed. An 
attack on Ticonderoga appeared to be impending; but as 
the garrison was in good heart, the commander resolute, and 
troops were on the way to re-enforce him, a spirited and per- 
haps successful resistance was anticipated by "Washington. 
His surprise may therefore be imagined, on receiving a letter 
from Schuyler, dated July 7, conveying the astounding in- 
telligence that Ticonderoga was evacuated! 

Schuyler had just received the news at Stillwater on 
the Hudson when on his way with re-enforcements for the 
fortress. The first account was so vague that Washington 
hoped it might prove incorrect. It was confirmed by another 
letter from Schuyler, dated on the 9th at Fort Edward. A 

444 U/or^s of U/asl^lp^tor) Iruir)^ 

part of the garrison had been pursued by a detachment of 
the enemy as far as Fort Anne in that neighborhood, where 
the latter had been repulsed ; as to St. Clair himself and the 
main part of his forces, they had thrown themselves into 
the forest, and nothing was known what had become of 
them ! 

**I am here," writes Schuyler, "at the head of a handful 
of men, not above fifteen hundred, with little ammunition, 
not above five rounds to a man, having neither balls nor 
lead to make any. The country is in the deepest consterna- 
tion; no carriages to remove the stores from Fort George, 
which I expect every moment to hear is attacked; and what 
adds to my distress is, that a report prevails that I had given 
orders for the evacuation of Ticonderoga. " 

Washington was totally at a loss to account for St. Clair's 
movement. To abandon a fortress which he had recently 
pronounced so defensible; and to abandon it apparently 
without firing a gun! and then the strange uncertainty as 
to liis subsequent fortunes, and the whereabout of himself 
and the main body of his troops! *'The affair," writes 
Washington, '*is so mysterious that it baffles even conjec- 

His first attention was to supply the wants of General 
Schuyler. An express was sent to Springfield for musket 
cartridges, gunpowder, lead, and cartridge papers. Ten 
pieces of artillery with harness and proper officers v/ere to 
be forwarded from Peekskill, as well as intrenching tools. 
Of tents he had none to furnish, neither could heavy cannon 
be spared from the defense of the Highlands. 

Six hundred recruits, on their march from Massachusetts 
to Peekskill, were ordered to repair to the re-enforcement 
of Schuyler; this was all the force that Washington could 

Cife of U/a8l?ir>(Jtoi> 445 

venture at this moment to send to his aid ; but this addition 
to his troops, supposing those under St. Clair should have 
come in, and any number of militia have turned out, would 
probably form an army equal, if not superior, to that said 
to be under Burgoyne. Besides, it was Washington's idea 
that the latter would suspend his operations until General 
Howe should make a movement in concert. Supposing that 
movement would be an immediate attempt against the 
Highlands, he ordered Sullivan with his division to Peeks- 
kill to re-enforce General Putnam. At the same time he 
advanced with his main army to Pompton, and thence to the 
Clove, a rugged defile through the Highlands on the west 
side of the Hudson. Here he encamped within eighteen 
miles of the river, to watch, and be at hand to oppose the 
designs of Sir William Howe, whatever might be their 

On the morning of the 14th came another letter from 
Schuyler, dated Fort Edward, July 10th. He had that 
morning received the first tidings of St. Clair and his missing 
troops, and of their being fifty miles east of him. 

Washington hailed the intelligence with that hopeful 
spirit which improved every ray of light in the darkest 
moments. "I am happy to hear," writes he, **that General 
St. Clair and his army are not in the hands of the enemy. 
I really feared they had become prisoners. The evacuation 
of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence is an event of 
chagrin and surprise not apprehended, nor within the com- 
pass of my reasoning. . . . This stroke is severe indeed, 
and has distressed us much. But notwithstanding things 
at present have a dark and gloomy aspect, I hope a spirited 
opposition will check the progress of General Burgoyne's 
army, and that the confidence derived from his success will 

446 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruii)^ 

hurry him into measures that will in their consequences be 
favorable to us. We should never despair. Our situation 
before has been unpromising and has changed for the 
better^ so I trust it will again. If new difficulties arise, 
we must only put forth neiv exertions^ and proportion our 
efforts to the exigency of the times. "^^ 

His spirit of candor and moderation is evinced in another 
letter. ^'1 will not condemn or even pass censure upon any 
officer unheard, but I think it a duty which General St. Clair 
owes to his own character to insist upon an opportunity of 
giving his reasons for his sudden evacuation of a post, which, 
but a few days before, he, by his own letters, thought ten- 
able, at least for a while. People at a distance are apt to 
form wrong conjectures, and if General St. Clair has good 
reasons for the step he has taken, I think the sooner he jus- 
tifies himself the better. I have mentioned these matters, 
because he may not know that his conduct is looked upon as 
very unaccountable by all ranks of people in this part of the 
country. If he is reprehensible, the public have an un- 
doubted right to call for that justice which is due from an 
officer who betrays or gives up his post in an unwarrantable 
manner." * 

Having stated the various measures adopted by "Wash- 
ington for the aid of the Northern army at this critical junc- 
ture, we will leave him at his encampment in the Clove, 
anxiously watching the movements of the fleet and the lower 
army, while we turn to the north, to explain the mysterious 
retreat of General St. Clair. 

* Letter to Schuyler, 18th July, 1777. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toi) 447 


Particulars of the Evacuation — Indian Scouts in the Vicinity of 
the Forts — Outposts abandoned by St. Clair — Burgoyne secures 
Mount Hope — Invests the Fortress — Seizes and occupies Sugar 
Hill — The Forts overlooked and in Imminent Peril — Determina- 
tion to Evacuate — Plan of Retreat — Part of the Garrison depart 
for Skenesborough in the Flotilla — St. Clair crosses with the 
rest to Fort Independence — A Conflagration reveals his Retreat 
— The British Camp aroused — Fraser Pursues St. Clair — Bur- 
goyne with his Squadron makes after the Flotilla — Part of the 
Fugitives overtaken— Flight of the Remainder to Fort Anne^ 
Skirmish of Colonel Long — Retreat to Fort Edward — St. Clair 
at Castleton — Attack of his Rearguard — Fall of Colonel Francis 
— Desertion of Colonel Hale — St. Clair reaches Fort Edward — 
Consternation of the Country — Exultation of the British 

In the accounts given in the preceding chapter of the 
approach of Burgoyne to Ticonderoga, it was stated that he 
had encamped four miles north of the fortress and intrenched 
himself. On the 2d of July, Indian scouts made their ap- 
pearance in the vicinity of a blockhouse and some outworks 
about the strait or channel leading to Lake George. As 
General St. Clair did not think the garrison sufficient to 
defend all the outposts, these works, with some adjacent 
sawmills, were set on fire and abandoned. The extreme left 
of Ticonderoga was weak, and might easily be turned; a 
post had therefore been established in the preceding year, 
nearly half a mile in advance of the old French lines, on an 
eminence to the north of them. General St. Clair, through 
singular remissness, had neglected to secure it. Burgoyne 
soon discovered this neglect, and hastened to detach Generals 

448 U/orKs of U/a8l?ir>^tor> Iruir>^ 

Phillips and Fraser with a body of infantry and light artil- 
lery, to take possession of l^s post. They did so without 
opposition. Heavy guns were mounted upon it; Fraser's 
whole corps was stationed there; the post commanded the 
communication by land and water with Lake George, so as 
to cut off all supplies from that quarter. In fact, such were 
the advantages expected from this post, thus neglected by 
St. Clair, that the British gave it the significant name of 
Mount Hope. 

The enemy now proceeded gradually to invest Ticon- 
deroga. A line of troops was drawn from the western part 
of Mount Hope round to Three Mile Point, where General 
Fraser was posted with the advance guard, while General 
Riedesel encamped with the German reserve in a parallel 
line, on the opposite side of Lake Champlain, at the foot 
of Mount Independence. For two days the enemy occupied 
themselves in making their advances and securing these 
positions, regardless of a cannonade kept up by the Ameri- 
can batteries. 

St. Clair began to apprehend that a regular siege was 
intended, which would be more difficult to withstand than 
a direct assault; he kept up a resolute aspect, however, and 
went about among his troops, encouraging them with the 
hope of a successful resistance, but enjoining incessant vigi- 
lance and punctual attendance at the alarm posts at morning 
and evening roll-call. 

With all the pains and expense lavished by the Americans 
to render these works impregnable, they had strangely 
neglected the master key by which they were all com- 
manded. This was Sugar Hill, a rugged height, the ter- 
mination of a mountain ridge which separates Lake Cham- 
plain from Lake George. It stood to the south of Ticon- 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tor? 4:4y 

deroga, beyond the narrow channel which connected the 
two lakes, and rose precipitously from the waters of Cham- 
plain to the height of six hundred feet. It had been pro- 
nounced by the Americans too distant to be dangerous. 
Colonel Trumbull, some time an aid-de-camp to Washing- 
ton, and subsequently an adjutant, had proved the contrary 
in the preceding year, by throwing a shot from a six-pounder 
in the fort nearly to the summit. It was then pronounced 
inaccessible to an enemy. This Trumbull had likewise 
proved to be an error, by clambering with Arnold and 
Wayne to the top, whence they perceived that a practical 
road for artillery might easily and readily be made. Trum- 
bull had insisted that this was the true point for the fort, 
commanding the neighboring heights, the narrow parts of 
both lakes, and the communication between. A small but 
strong fort here, with twenty-five heavy guns and five hun- 
dred men, would be as efficient as one hundred guns and ten 
thousand men on the extensive works of Ticonderoga.* His 
suggestions were disregarded. Their wisdom was now to 
be proved. 

The British General Phillips, on taking his position, had 
regarded the hill with a practiced eye. He caused it to be 
reconnoitered by a skillful engineer. The report was that it 
overlooked and had the entire command of Fort Ticonderoga 
and Fort Independence ; being about fourteen hundred yards 
from the former, and fifteen hundred from the latter; that 
the ground could be leveled for cannon, and a road cut up 
the defiles of the mountain in four and twenty hours. 

Measures were instantly taken to plant a battery on that 
height. While the American garrisons were entirely en- 

* Trumbull's Autobiography, p. 32. 

450 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruir?^ 

gaged in a different direction, cannonading Mount Hope and 
the British lines without material effect, and without pro- 
voking a reply, the British troops were busy throughout the 
day and night cutting a road through rocks and trees and 
up rugged defiles. Guns, ammunition, and stores, all were 
carried up the hill in the night ; the cannon were hauled up 
from tree to tree, and before morning the ground was leveled 
for the battery on which they were to be mounted. To this 
work, thus achieved by a coup de main, they gave the name 
of Fort Defiance. 

On the fifth of July, to their astonishment and consterna- 
tion, the garrison beheld a legion of red coats on the summit 
of this hill, constructing works which must soon lay the 
fortress at their mercy. 

In this sudden and appalling emergency. General St. 
Clair called a council of war. "What was to be done? The 
batteries from this new fort would probably be open the next 
day : by that time Ticonderoga might be completely invested 
and the whole garrison exposed to capture. They had not 
force sufficient for one-half the works, and General Schuyler, 
supposed to be at Albany, could afford them no relief. The 
danger was imminent, and delay might prove fatal. It was 
unanimously determined to evacuate both Ticonderoga and 
Mount Independence that very night, and retreat to Skenes- 
borough (now Whitehall), at the upper part of the lake, about 
thirty miles distant, where there was a stockaded fort. The 
main body of the army, led by General St. Clair, were to 
cross to Mount Independence and push for Skenesborough 
by land, taking a circuitous route through the woods on the 
east side of the lake, by the way of Castle ton. 

The cannon, stores, and provisions, together with the 
wounded and the women, were to be embarked on board 

Cife of U/a8t;ii><jtop 451 

of two hundred bateaux, and conducted to the upper ex- 
tremity of the lake, by Colonel Long with six hundred men ; 
two hundred of whom in five armed galleys were to form a 

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon; yet all the 
preparations were to be made for the coming night, and 
that with as little bustle and movement as possible ; for they 
were overlooked by Fort Defiance and their intentions might 
be suspected. Everything, therefore, was done quietly but 
alertly ; in the meantime, to amuse the enemy, a cannonade 
was kept up every half hour toward the new battery on the 
hill. As soon as evening closed, and their movements could 
not be discovered, they began in all haste to load the boats. 
Such of the cannon as could not be taken were ordered to be 
spiked. It would not do to knock off their trunnions, lest 
the noise should awaken suspicions. In the hurry several 
were left uninjured. The lights in the garrison being pre- 
viously extinguished, their tents were struck and put on 
board of the boats, and the women and the sick embarked. 
Everything was conducted in such silence and address that, 
although it was a moonlight night, the flotilla departed un- 
discovered; and was soon under the shadows of mountains 
and overhanging forests. 

The retreat by land was not conducted with equal dis- 
cretion and mystery. General St. Clair had crossed over 
the bridge to the Vermont side of the lake by three o'clock 
in the morning, and set forward with his advance through 
the woods toward Hubbardton; but, before the rearguard 
under Colonel Francis got in motion, the house at Fort Inde- 
pendence, which had been occupied by the French General 
de Fermois, was set on fire — by his orders, it is said, though 
we are loth to charge him with such indiscretion; such gross 

452 U/orl^s of U/asJ?ir)^t:or) Iruir)<J 

and wanton violation of the plan of retreat. The conse- 
quences were disastrous. The British sentries at Mount 
Hope were astonished by a conflagration suddenly lighting 
up Mount Independence, and revealing the American troops 
in full retreat; for the rearguard, disconcerted by this sud- 
den exposure, pressed forward for the woods in the utmost 
haste and confusion. 

The drums beat to arms in the British camp. Alarm 
guns were fired from Mount Hope : General Fraser dashed 
into Ticonderoga with his pickets, giving orders for his bri- 
gade to arm in all haste and follow. By daybreak he had 
hoisted the British flag over the deserted fortress; before 
sunrise he had passed the bridge and was in full pursuit of 
the American rearguard. Burgoyne was roused from his 
morning slumbers on board of the frigate "Royal George," 
by the alarm guns from Fort Hope, and a message from 
General Fraser, announcing the double retreat of the Amer- 
icans by land and water. From the quarterdeck of the 
frigate he soon had confirmation of the news. The British 
colors were flying on Fort Ticonderoga, and Fraser's troops 
were glittering on the opposite shore. 

Burgoyne's measures were prompt. General Riedesel 
was ordered to follow and support Fraser with a part of the 
German troops ; garrisons were thrown into Ticonderoga and 
Mount Independence; the main part of the army was em- 
barked on board of the frigates and gunboats ; the floating 
bridge with its boom and chain, which had cost months to 
construct, was broken through by nine o'clock; when Bur- 
goyne set out with his squadron in pursuit of the flotilla. 

"We left the latter making its retreat on the preceding 
evening toward Skenesborough. The lake above Ticonderoga 
becomes so narrow that, in those times, it was frequently 

Cife of U/asI^ip^tOQ 453 

called South River. Its beautiful waters wound among 
mountains covered with primeval forests. The bateaux, 
deeply laden, made their way slowly in a lengthened line; 
sometimes under the shadows of the mountains, sometimes 
in the gleam of moonlight. The rearguard of armed galleys 
followed at wary distance. No immediate pursuit, however, 
was apprehended. The floating bridge was considered an 
effectual impediment to the enemy's fleet. Gayety, there- 
fore, prevailed among the fugitives. They exulted in the 
secrecy and dexterity with which they had managed their 
retreat, and amused themselves with the idea of what would 
be the astonishment of the enemy at daybreak. The officers 
regaled merrily on the stores saved from Ticonderoga, and 
knocking off the necks of bottles of wine drank a pleasant 
reveille to General Burgoyne. 

About three o'clock in the afternoon of the succeeding 
day, the heavily laden bateaux arrived at Skenesborough. 
The disembarkation had scarcely commenced when the thun- 
dering of artillery was heard from below. Could the enemj^ 
be at hand? It was even so. The British gunboats, having 
pushed on in advance of the frigates, had overtaken and 
were firing upon the galleys. The latter defended them- 
selves for a while, but at length two struck and three were 
blown up. The fugitives from them brought word that the 
British ships not being able to come up, troops and Indians 
were landing from them and scrambling up the hills ; intend 
ing to get in the rear of the fort and cut off all retreat. 

All now was consternation and confusion. The bateaux, 
the storehouses, the fort, the mill were all set on fire, and a 
general flight took place toward Fort Anne, about twelve 
miles distant. Some made their way in boats up "Wood 
Creek, a winding stream. The main body, under Colonel 

454 U/orl^s of U/a8l?li7^toi> Iruir)^ 

Long, retreated by a narrow defile cut through the woods 'c 
harassed all night by alarms that the Indians were close in 
pursuit. Both parties reached Fort Anne by daybreak. It 
was a small picketed fort, near the junction of Wood Creek 
and East Creek, about sixteen miles from Fort Edward. 
General Schuyler arrived at the latter place on the following 
day. The number of troops with him was inconsiderable, 
but, hearing of Colonel Long's situation, he immediately 
sent him a small re-enforcement, with provisions and ammu- 
nition, and urged him to maintain his post resolutely. 

On the same day Colonel Long's scouts brought in word 
that there were British redcoats approaching. They were 
in fact a regiment under Lieutenant-colonel Hill, detached 
from Skenesborough by Burgoyne in pursuit of the fugitives. 
Long sallied forth to meet them ; posting himself at a rocky 
defile, where there was a narrow pathway along the border 
of Wood Creek. As the enemy advanced he opened a heavy 
fire upon them in front, while a part of his troops, crossing 
and recrossing the creek, and availing themselves of their 
knowledge of the ground, kept up a shifting attack from the 
woods in flank and rear. Apprehensive of being surrounded, 
the British took post upon a high hill to their right, where 
they were warmly besieged for nearly two hours, and, ac- 
cording to their own account, would certainly have been 
forced, had not some of their Indian allies arrived and set up 
the much-dreaded war-whoop. It was answered with three 
cheers by the British upon the hill. This changed the fort- 
une of the day. The Americans had nearly expended their 
ammunition, and had not enough left to cope with this new 
enemy. They retreated, therefore, to Fort Anne, carrying 
with them a number of prisoners, among whom were a cap- 
tain and surgeon. Supposing the troops under Colonel Hill 

Cife of U/a8l7ii7<$tOQ 455 

an advance guard of Burgoyne's army, they set fire to the 
fort and pushed on to Fort Edward ; where they gave the 
alarm that the main force of the enemy was close after them, 
and that no one knew what had become of General St. Clair 
and the troops who had retreated with him. We shall now 
clear up the mystery of his movements. 

His retreat through the woods from Mount Independence 
continued the first day until night, when he arrived at Cas- 
tleton, thirty miles from Ticonderoga. His rearguard halted 
about six miles short, at Hubbardton, to await the arrival of 

It was composed of three regiments, under Colonels Seth 
Warner, Francis, and Hale; in all about thirteen hundred 

Early the next morning, a sultry morning of July, while 
they were taking their breakfast, they were startled by the 
report of firearms. Their sentries had discharged their mus- 
kets, and came running in with word that the enemy were 
at hand. 

It was General Eraser, with his advance of eight hun- 
dred and fifty men, who had pressed forward in the latter 
part of the night, and now attacked the Americans with 
great spirit, notwithstanding their superiority in numbers; 
in fact, he expected to be promptly re-enforced by Riedesel 
and his Germans. The Americans met the British with 
great spirit; but at the very commencement of the action 
Colonel Hale, with a detachment placed under his command 
to protect the rear, gave way, leaving Warner and Francis 
with but seven hundred men to bear the brunt of the battle. 
These posted themselves behind logs and trees in ** back- 
wood" style, whence they kept up a destructive fire, and 
were evidently gaining the advantage, when General Rie- 

456 U/orKs of U/a8J?ir>^tor> IruJ9<? 

desel came pressing into the action with his German troops; 
drums beating and colors flying. There was now an im- 
petuous charge with the bayonet. Colonel Francis was 
among the first who fell, gallantly fighting at the head of 
his men. 

The Americans, thinking the whole German force upon 
them, gave way and fled, leaving the ground covered with 
their dead and wounded. Many others who had been 
wounded perished in the woods, where they had taken ref- 
uge. Their whole loss in killed, wounded, and taken, was 
upward of three hundred ; that of the enemy one hundred 
and eighty-three. Several officers were lost on both sides. 
Among those wounded of the British was Major Ackland of 
the grenadiers, of whose further fortunes in the war we shall 
have to speak hereafter. 

The noise of the firing when the action commenced had 
reached General St. Clair at Castleton. He immediately 
sent orders to two militia regiments which were in his rear, 
and within two miles of the battle ground, to hasten to the 
assistance of his rearguard. They refused to obey and hur- 
ried forward to Castleton. At this juncture St. Clair re- 
ceived information of Burgoyne's arrival at Skenesborough, 
and the destruction of the American works there. Fearing 
to be intercepted at Fort Anne, he immediately changed his 
route, struck into the woods on his left, and directed his 
march to Rutland, leaving word for Warner to follow him. 
The latter overtook him two days afterward, with his shat- 
tered force reduced to ninety men. As to Colonel Hale, 
who had pressed toward Castleton at the beginning of the 
action, he and his men were overtaken the same day by the 
enemy, and the whole party captured, without making any 
fight. It has been alleged in his excuse, with apparent jus- 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 4^57 

tice, that he and a large portion of his men were in feeble 
health, and unfit for action; for his own part, he died while 
yet a prisoner, and never had the opportunity which he 
sought to vindicate himself before a court-martial. 

On the 12th St. Clair reached Fort Edward, his troops 
haggard and exhausted by their long rotreat through the 
woods. Such is the story of the catastrophe at Fort Ticon- 
deroga, which caused so much surprise and concern to Wash- 
ington, and of the seven days' mysterious disappearance of 
St. Clair, which kept every one in the most painful suspense. 

The loss of artillery, ammunition, provisions, and stores, 
in consequence of the evacuation of these northern posts, was 
prodigious ; but the worst effect was the consternation spread 
throughout the country. A panic prevailed at Albany, the 
people running about as if distracted, sending off their goods 
and furniture.* The great barriers of the North, it was 
said, were broken through, and there was nothing to check 
the triumphant career of the enemy. 

The invading army, both officers and men, according to 
a British writer of the time, **were highly elated with their 
fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible. 
They regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt, and 
considered their own toils to be nearly at an end, and Albany 
already in their hands." 

In England, too, according to the same author, the joy 
and exultation were extreme; not only at court, but with all 
those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation and 
unconditional submission of the colonies. "The loss in repu- 
tation was greater to the Americans," adds he, ''and capable 

of more fatal consequences than that of ground, of posts, of 

-^— ^— — ^ 

* MS. Letter of Richard Varick to Schuyler. 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 20 

458 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ir)^tor? Iruii)^ 

artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous and most de- 
grading charges which had been made by their enemies, of 
their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even in the 
defense of what was dear to them, were now repeated and 
believed.'* . . . **It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion 
that the war, in effect, was over, and that any further resist- 
ance would render the terms of their submission worse. 
Such," he concludes, *'were some of the immediate effects 
of the loss of those grand keys of North America, Ticon- 
deroga and the lakes." * 


Capture of General Prescott — Proffered in Exchange for Lee — Re- 
enforcements to Schuyler — Arnold sent to the North — Eastern 
Militia to repair to Saratoga — Further Re-enforcements — Gen- 
eral Lincoln and Arnold recommended for Particular Services 
— Washington's Measures and Suggestions for the Northern 
Campaign — British Fleet puts to Sea — Conjectures as to its Des- 
tination — A Feigned Letter — Appearance and Disappearance of 
the Fleet — Orders and Counter Orders of Washington — En- 
camps at Germantown — Anxiety for the Security of the High- 
lands — George Clinton on Guard — Call on Connecticut 

A SPIRITED exploit to the eastward was performed dur- 
ing the prevalence of adverse news from the North. Gen- 
eral Prescott had command of the British forces in Rhode 
Island. His harsh treatment of Colonel Ethan Allen, and 
his haughty and arrogant conduct on various occasions, had 
rendered him peculiarly odious to the Americans. Lieuten- 

* Hist. Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 283. 

Cife of U/a8l?lr><$toi) 459 

ant-colonel Barton, who was stationed with a force of Rhode 
Island militia on the mainland, received word that Prescott 
was quartered at a country house near the western shore of 
the island, about four miles from Newport, totally uncon- 
scious of danger, though in a very exposed situation. He 
determined, if possible, to surprise and capture him. Forty 
resolute men joined him in the enterprise. Embarking at 
night in two boats at Warwick Neck, they pulled quietly 
across the bay with muffled oars, undiscovered by the ships 
of war and guard-boats; landed in silence; eluded the vigi- 
lance of the guard stationed near the house; captured the 
sentry at the door and surprised the general in his bed. His 
aid-de-camp leaped from the window, but was likewise taken. 
Colonel Barton returned with equal silence and address, and 
arrived safe at Warwick with his prisoners. A sword was 
voted to him by Congress, and he received a colonel's com- 
mission in the regular army. 

Washington hailed the capture of Prescott as a peculiarly 
fortunate circumstance, furnishing him with an equivalent 
for General Lee. He accordingly wrote to Sir William 
Howe, proposing the exchange. "This proposition,*' writes 
he, '* being agreeable to the letter and spirit of the agreement 
subsisting between us, will, I hope, have your approbation. 
I am the more induced to expect it, as it will not only re- 
move one ground of controversy between us, but in its con- 
sequences effect the exchanges of Lieutenant-colonel Camp- 
bell and the Hessian officers, for a like number of ours of 
equal rank in your possession." 

No immediate reply was received to this letter. Sir Wil- 
liam Howe being at sea ; in the meantime Prescott remained 
in durance. "I would have him genteelly accommodated, 
but strongly guarded," writes Washington. **I would not 

460 U/or^s of U/asf^io^top Iruir)^ 

admit him to parole, as General Howe has not thought 
proper to grant General IjOO that indulgence."* 

"Washington continued his anxious exertions to counter- 
act the operations of the enemy; forwarding artillery and 
ammunition to Schuyler with all the camp furniture that 
could be spared from his own encampment and from Peeks- 
kill. A part of Nixon's brigade was all the re-enforcement 
he could afford in his present situation. "To weaken this 
army more than is prudent," writes he, '* would perhaps 
bring destruction upon it, and I look upon the keeping it 
upon a respectable footing as the only means of preventing 
a junction of Howe's and Burgoyne's armies, which, if 
effected, may have the most fatal consequences." 

Schuyler had earnestly desired the assistance of an active 
officer well acquainted with the country. Washington sent 
him Arnold. **I need not," writes he, "enlarge upon his 
well-known activity, conduct and bravery. The proofs he 
has given of all these have gained him the confidence of the 
public and of the army, the Eastern troops in particular." 

The question of rank, about which Arnold was so tena- 
cious, was yet unsettled, and though, had his promotion been 
regular, he would have been superior in command to General 
St. Clair, he assured Washington that, on the present occa- 
sion, his claim should create no dispute. 

Schuyler, in the meantime, aided by Kosciuszko the Pole, 
who was engineer in his department, had selected two posi- 
tions on Moses Creek, four miles below Fort Edward ; where 
the troops which had retreated from Ticonderoga, and part 
of the miUtia, were throwing up works. 

* Letter to Governor Trumbull. Correspondence of the 
Revolution, vol. i., Sparks. 

Cife of U/asl^ip^ton 461 

To impede the advance of the enemy, he had caused trees 
to be felled into Wood Creek, so as to render it unnavigable, 
and the roads between Fort Edward and Fort Anne to be 
broken up ; the cattle in that direction to be brought away, 
and the forage destroyed. He had drawn off the garrison 
from Fort George, who left the buildings in flames. 
** Strengthened by that garrison, who are in good health," 
-writes he, *'and if the militia, who are here, or an equal 
number, can be prevailed on to stay, and the enemy give 
me a few days more, which I think they will be obliged to 
do, I shall not be apprehensive that they will be able to force 
the posts I am about to occupy." 

Washington cheered on his faithful coadjutor. His reply 
to Schuyler (July 22d) was full of that confident hope, 
founded on sagacious forecast, with which he was prone 
to animate his generals in time of doubt and difficulty. 
** Though our affairs for some days past have worn a dark 
and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and 
happy change. I trust General Burgoyne's army will meet 
sooner or later an effectual check, and, as I suggested be- 
fore, that the success he has had will precipitate his ruin. 
From your accounts, he appears to be pursuing that line of 
conduct which, of all others, is most favorable to us ; I mean 
acting in detachment. This conduct will certainly give room 
for enterprise on our part, and expose his parties to great 
hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them off, 
supposing it should not exceed four, five, or six hundred 
men, it would inspirit the people and do away much of their 
present anxiety. In such an event they would lose sight of 
past misfortunes, and, urged at the same time by a regard 
to their own security, they would fly to arms and afford 
every aid in their power." 

462 U/orKs of U/asl^iQ^toi) Irulp^ 

"While he thus suggested bold enterprises, he cautioned 
Schuyler not to repose too much confidence in the works he 
was projecting, so as to collect in them a large quantity of 
stores. *'I begin to consider lines as a kind of trap,'' writes 
he, **and not to answer the valuable purposes expected from 
them, unless they are in passes which cannot be avoided by 
the enemy." 

In circulars addressed to the brigadier-generals of militia 
in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, he 
warned them that the evacuation of Ticonderoga had opened 
a door by which the enemy, unless vigorously opposed, might 
penetrate the northern part of the State of New York, and 
the western parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 
and, forming a junction with General Howe, cut off the 
communication between the Eastern and Northern States. 
"It cannot be supposed," adds he, ''that the small number 
of Continental troops assembled at Fort Edward is alone 
sufficient to check the progress of the enemy. To the mi- 
litia, therefore, must we look for support in this time of 
trial; and I trust that you will immediately upon receipt 
of this, if you have not done it already, march with at least 
one-third of the militia under your command, and rendez- 
vous at Saratoga, unless directed to some other place by 
General Schuyler or General Arnold." 

Washington now ordered that all the vessels and river 
craft, not required at Albany, should be sent down to New 
Windsor and Fishkill, and kept in readiness ; for he knew 
not how soon the movements of General Howe might render 
it suddenly necessary to transport part of his forces up the 

Further letters from Schuyler urged the increasing exi- 
gencies of his situation. It was harvest time. The militia, 

Cife of U/a8l7ir>($tor> 463 

impatient at being detained from their rural labors, were 
leaving him in great numbers. In a council of general offi- 
cers it had been thought advisable to give leave of absence 
to half, lest the whole should depart. He feared those who 
remained would do so but a few days. The enemy were 
steadily employed cutting a road toward him from Skenes- 
borough. From the number of horse they were reported to 
have, and to expect, they might intend to bring their provis- 
ions on horseback. If so, they would be able to move with 
expedition. In this position of affairs, he urged to be re- 
enforced as speedily as possible. 

Washington, in reply, informed him that he had ordered 
a further re-enforcement of General Glover's brigade, which 
was all he could possibly furnish in his own exigencies. He 
trusted affairs with Schuyler would soon wear a more smiling 
aspect, that the Eastern States, who were so deeply concerned 
in the matter, would exert themselves, by effectual succors, 
to enable him to check the progress of the enemy, and repel 
a danger by which they were immediately threatened. From 
the information he had received, he supposed the force of the 
enemy to be little more than five thousand. '*They seem," 
said he, 'Ho be unprovided with wagons to transport the 
immense quantity of baggage and warlike apparatus, with- 
out which they cannot pretend to penetrate the country. 
You mention their having a great number of horses, but 
they must nevertheless require a considerable number of 
wagons, as there are many things which cannot be trans- 
ported on horses. They can never think of advancing with- 
out securing their rear, and the force with which they can 
act against you will be greatly reduced by detachments 
necessary for that purpose ; and as they have to cut out their 
passage, and to remove the impediments you have thrown in 

464 U/orKs of \I/a8l?ir>^tor> IruiQ^ 

their way, before they can proceed, this cu'cumstance, with 
the encumbrance they must feel in their baggage, stores, 
etc., will inevitably retard their march, and give you leisure 
and opportunity to prepare a good reception for them. . . . 
I have directed General Lincoln to repair to you as speedily 
as the state of his health, which is not very perfect, wiU 
permit; this gentleman has always supported the character 
of a judicious, brave, active officer, and he is exceedingly 
popular in the State of Massachusetts, to which he belongs; 
he ^vill have a degree of influence over the militia which 
cannot fail of being highly advantageous. I have intended 
him more particularly for the command of the militia, and 
I promise myself it will have a powerful tendency to make 
them turn out with more cheerfulness, and to inspire them 
with perseverance to remain in the field, and with fortitude 
and spirit to do their duty while in it." * 

"Washington highly approved of a measure suggested by 
Schuyler, of stationing a body of troops somewhere about 
the Hampshire Grants (Vermont), so as to be in the rear or 
on the flank of Burgoyne, should he advance. It would 
make the latter, he said, very circumspect in his advances, 
if it did not entirely prevent them. It would keep him in 
continual anxiety for his rear, and oblige him to leave the 
posts behind him much stronger than he would otherwise do. 
He advised that General Lincoln should have command 
of the corps thus posted, **as no person could be more proper 
for it." 

He recommended, moreover, that in case the enemy 
should make any formidable movement in the neighborhood 
of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), on the Mohawk River, General 

* Schuyler's Letter Book. 

Cife of U/asi^iQ^tOQ 46D 

Arnold, or some other sensible, spirited officer, should be 
sent to take charge of that post, keep up the spirits of the 
inhabitants, and cultivate and improve the favorable dis- 
position of the Indians. 

The reader will find in the sequel what a propitious effect 
all these measures had upon the fortunes of the Northern 
campaign, and with what admirable foresight Washington 
calculated all its chances. Due credit must also be given to 
the sagacious counsels and executive energy of Schuyler; 
who suggested some of the best moves in the campaign, and 
carried them vigorously into action. Never was Washington 
more ably and loyally seconded by any of his generals. 

But now the attention of the commander-in-chief is called 
to the seaboard. On the 23d of July, the fleet, so long the 
object of watchful solicitude, actually put to sea. The force 
embarked, according to subsequent accounts, consisted of 
thirty-six British and Hessian battalions, including the light 
infantry and grenadiers, with a powerful artillery; a New 
York corps of provincials, or royalists, called the Queen's 
Rangers, and a regiment of light-horse ; between fifteen and 
eighteen thousand men in all. The force left with General 
Sir Henry Clinton for the protection of New York consisted 
of seventeen battalions, a regiment of light-horse, and the 
remainder of the provincial corps. * 

The destination of the fleet was still a matter of conject- 
ure. Just after it had sailed, a young man presented him- 
self at one of General Putnam's outposts. He had been a 
prisoner in New York, he said, but had received his liberty 
and a large reward on undertaking to be the bearer of a letter 
from General Howe to Burgoyne. This letter his feelings 

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 250. 

4(36 U/or^s of U/asl^ip^tOQ Iruir><J 

of patriotism prompted liim to deliver up to General Put- 
nam. The letter was immediately transmitted by the general 
to Washington. It was in the handwriting of Howe and bore 
his signature. In it he informed Burgoyne, that, instead of 
any designs up the Hudson, he was bound to the east against 
Boston. **If," said he, ''according to my expectations, we 
may succeed in getting possession of it, I shall, without loss 
of time, proceed to co-operate with you in the defeat of the 
rebel army opposed to you. Clinton is sufficiently strong 
to amuse Washington and Putnam. I am now making 
demonstrations to the southward, which I think will have 
the full effect in carrying our plan into execution." 

Washington at once pronounced the letter a feint. ''No 
stronger proof could be given," said he, "that Howe is not 
going to the eastward. The letter was evidently intended 
to fall into our hands. If there were not too great a risk 
of the dispersion of their fleet, I should think their putting to 
sea a mere maneuver to deceive, and the North River still 
their object. I am persuaded, more than ever, that Phila- 
delphia is the place of destination." 

He now set out with his army for the Delaware, ordering 
Sullivan and Stirling with their divisions to cross the Hudson 
from Peekskill, and proceed toward Philadelphia. Every 
movement and order showed his doubt and perplexity, and 
the circumspection with which he had to proceed. On the 
30th he writes from Coryell's Ferry, about thirty miles from 
Philadelphia, to General Gates, who was in that city: "As 
we are yet uncertain as to the real destination of the enemy, 
though the Delaware seems the most probable, I have 
thought it prudent to halt the army at this place, Howell's 
Ferry, and Trenton, at least till the fleet actually enters the 
bay and puts the matter beyond a doubt. From hence w© 

Cife of U/a8l?ip($tor) 467 

can be on the proper ground to oppose them before they can 
possibly make their arrangements and dispositions for an 
attack. . . . That the post in the Highlands ^may not be 
left too much exposed, I have ordered General Sullivan's 
division to halt at Morristown, whence it vrill march south • 
ward, if there should be occasion, or northward upon the 
first advice that the enemy should be throwing any force 
up the North River. General Howe's in a manner abandon- 
ing General Burgoyne is so unaccountable a matter, that, 
till I am fully assured it is so, I cannot help casting my 
eyes continually behind me. As I shall pay no regard to 
any flying reports of the appearance of the fleet, I shall 
expect an account of it from you, the moment you have 
ascertained it to your satisfaction." 

On the 31st, he was informed that the enemy's fleet of 
two hundred and twenty-eight sail had arrived the day pre- 
vious at the Capes of Delaware. He instantly wrote to 
Putnam to hurry on two brigades, which had crossed the 
river, and to let Schuyler and the commanders in the Eastern 
States know that they had nothing to fear from Howe, and 
might bend all their forces. Continental and militia, against 
Burgoyne. In the meantime he moved his camp to German - 
town, about six miles from Philadelphia, to be at hand for 
the defense of that city. 

The very next day came word, by express, that the fleet 
had again sailed out of the Capes, and apparently shaped 
its course eastward. ''This surprising event gives me the 
greatest anxiety," writes he to Putnam (Aug. 1), "and 
unless every possible exertion is made, may be productive 
of the happiest consequences to the enemy and the most 
injurious to us. . . . The importance of preventing Mr. 
Howe's getting possession of the Highlands by a coup de 

468 U/orHs of U/asl?ir)^toi> IrufQ^ 

mam is infinite to America; and, in the present situation 
of things, every effort that can be thought of must be used. 
The probabihty of his going to the eastward is exceedingly 
small, and the ill effects that might attend such a step incon- 
siderable, in comparison with those that would inevitably 
attend a successful stroke on the Highlands." 

Under this impression "Washington sent orders to Sullivan 
to hasten back with his division and the two brigades which 
had recently left Peekskill, and to recross the Hudson to that 
post as speedily as possible, intending to forward the rest 
of the army with all the expedition in his power. He wrote, 
also, to General George Clinton to re-enforce Putnam with 
as many of the New York militia as could be collected. 
Clinton, be it observed, had just been installed Governor 
of the State of New York ; the first person elevated to that 
office under the Constitution. He still continued in actual 
command of the militia of the State, and it was with great 
satisfaction that Washington subsequently learned he had 
determined to resume the command of Fort Montgomery in 
the Highlands: ** There cannot be a more proper man," 
writes he, **on every account.'* 

Washington, moreover, requested Putnam to send an 
express to Governor Trumbull, urging assistance from the 
militia of his State without a moment's loss of time. ** Con- 
necticut cannot be in more danger through any channel than 
this, and every motive of its own interest and the general 
good demands its utmost endeavors to give you effectual 
assistance. Governor Trumbull will, I trust, be sensible of 

And here we take occasion to observe, that there could 
be no surer reliance for aid in time of danger than the patriot- 
ism of Governor Trumbull ; or were there men more ready 

Cife of Mfas\)'iT)<^tOT) 469 

to obey a sudden appeal to arms than the yeomanry of Con- 
necticut; however much their hearts might subsequently 
yearn toward the farms and firesides they had so promptly 
abandoned. No portion of the Union was more severely 
tasked, throughout the Revolution, for military services; 
and Washington avowed, when the great struggle was over, 
that, '*if all the States had done their duty as well as the 
little State of Connecticut, the war would have been ended 
long ago." * 


Gates on the Alert for a Command — Schuyler undermined in Con- 
gress — Put on his Guard — Courts a Scrutiny, but not before an 
expected Engagement — Summoned with St. Clair to Headquar- 
ters—Gates appointed to the Northern Department — Washing- 
ton's Speculations on the Successes of Burgoyne — Ill-judged 
Meddlings of Congress with the Commissariat — Colonel Trum- 
bull resigns in consequence 

We have cited in a preceding page a letter from Wash- 
ington to Gates at Philadelphia, requiring his vigilant atten- 
tion to the movements of the enemy's fleet ; that ambitious 
officer, however, was engrossed at the time by matters more 
important to his individual interests. The command of the 
Northern department seemed again within his reach. The 
evacuation of Ticonderoga had been imputed by many either 
to cowardice or treachery on the part of General St. Clair, 
and the enemies of Schuyler had, for some time past, been 
endeavoring to involve him in the disgrace of the transac- 
tion. It is true he was absent from the fortress at the time, 
zealously engaged, as we have shown, in procuring and for- 

* Communicated by Professor B. Silliman. 

470 U/orl^s of U/ast^ip^top Iruip^J 

warding re-enforcements and supplies ; but it was alleged 
that the fort had been evacuated by his order, and that, 
while there, he had made such dispositions as plainly indi- 
cated an intention to deliver it to the enemy. In the eager- 
ness to excite popular feeling against him, old slanders were 
revived, and the failure of the invasion of Canada, and all 
the subsequent disasters in that quarter, were again laid 
to his charge as commanding general of the Northern de- 
partment. "In short," writes Schuyler in one of his letters, 
"every art is made use of to destroy that confidence which 
it is so essential the army should have in its general offi- 
cers, and this too by people pretending to be friends to 
the country." * 

These charges, which for some time existed merely in 
popular clamor, had recently been taken up in Congress, and 
a strong demonstration had been made against him by some 
of the New England delegates. "Your enemies in this 
quarter," writes his friend the Hon. William Duer (July 
29th), "are leaving no means unessayed to blast your char- 
acter, and to impute to your appointment in that department 
a loss which, rightly investigated, can be imputed to very 
different causes. 

"Be not surprised if you should be desired to attend Con- 
gress, to give an account of the loss of Ticonderoga. With 
respect to the result of the inquiry I am under no apprehen- 
sions. Like gold tried in the fire, I trust that you, my dear 
friend, will be found more pure and bright than ever. . . . 
From the nature of your department, and other unavoidable 
causes, you have not had an opportunity, during the course 
of this war, of evincing that spirit which 1 and your more 

* Schuyler to Governor Trumbull. Letter Book. 

Cife of \I/a8l?ir7<$tor> 471 

intimate friends know you to possess; of this circumstance 
prejudice takes a cruel advantage, and malice lends an easy 
ear to her dictates. A hint on this subject is sufficient. You 
will not, I am sure, see this place till your conduct gives the 
lie to [this insinuation, as it has done before to every other 
which your enemies have so industriously circulated." * 

Schuyler, in reply, expressed the most ardent wish that 
Congress would order him to attend and give an account of 
his conduct. He wished his friends to push for the closest 
scrutiny, confident that it would redound to his honor. "I 
would not, however, wish the scrutiny to take place imme- 
diately," adds he, "as we shall probably soon have an en- 
gagement, if we are so re -enforced with militia as to give 
us a probable chance of success. ... Be assured, my dear 
friend, if a general engagement takes place, whatever may 
be the event, you will not have occasion to blush for your 
friend." f 

It seemed to be the object of Mr. Schuyler's enemies to 
forestall his having such a chance of distinguishing himself. 
The business was pushed in Congress more urgently than 
even Mr. Duer had anticipated. Besides the allegations 
against him in regard to Ticonderoga, his unpopularity in 
the Eastern States was urged as a sufficient reason for dis- 
continuing him in his present command, as the troops from 
that quarter were unwilling to serve under him. This had 
a great effect in the present time of peril, with several of the 
delegates from the East, who discredited the other charges 
against him. The consequence was that after long and 
ardent debates, in which some of the most eminent delegates 
from New York, who intimately knew his worth, stood up 

* Schuyler's Papers. f Schuyler's Letter Book. 

4:72 U/orl^8 of U/asl^lp^too Irufr>^ 

in his favor, it was resolved (Aug. 1st), that both General 
Schuyler and General St. Clair should be summoned to 
headquarters to account for the misfortunes in the North, 
and that Washington should be directed to order such general 
officer as he should think proper to succeed General Schuyler 
in the command of the Northern Department. 

The very next day a letter was addressed to "Washington 
by several of the leading Eastern members, men of unques- 
tionable good faith, such as Samuel and John Adams, urging 
the appointment of Gates, *'No man, in our opinion," said 
they, "will be more likely to restore harmony, order and 
discipline, and retrieve our affairs in that quarter. He has, 
on experience, acquired the confidence and stands high in 
the esteem of the Eastern troops." 

Washington excused himself from making any nomina- 
tion, alleging that the Northern department had, in a great 
measure, been considered a separate one; that, moreover, 
the situation of the department was delicate, and might 
involve interesting and delicate consequences. The nomina- 
tion, therefore, was made by Congress ; the Eastern influence 
prevailed, and Gates received the appointment, so long the 
object of his aspirations, if not intrigues. 

Washington deeply regretted the removal of a noble- 
hearted man with whom he had acted so harmoniously, 
whose exertions had been so energetic and unwearied, and 
who was so peculiarly fitted for the various duties of the 
department. He consoled himself, however, with the thought 
that the excuse of want of confidence in the general officers, 
hitherto alleged by the Eastern States for withholding re- 
enforcements, would be obviated by the presence of this man 
of their choice. 

With the prevalent wisdom of his pen, he endeavored to 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)($tor> 473 

allay the distrusts and apprehensions awakened by the mis- 
fortune at Ticonderoga, which he considered the worst conse- 
quence of that event. *'If the matter were coolly and dis- 
passionately considered," writes he to the council of safety 
of the State of New York, 'Hhere would be nothing found 
so formidable in General Burgoyne and the force under him 
with all his successes to countenance the least degree of 
despondency, and experience would show that even the mod- 
erate exertions of the States more immediately interested 
would be sufficient to check his career, and, perhaps, convert 
the advantages he has gained to his ruin. ... If I do not 
give so effectual aid as I could wish to the Northern army, 
it is not from want of inclination, nor from being too little 
impressed with the importance of doing it ; but because the 
state of affairs in this quarter will not possibly admit of it. 
It would be the height of impolicy to weaken ourselves too 
much here, in order to increase our strength there; and it 
must certainly be considered more difficult, as well as of 
greater moment, to control the main army of the enemy, 
than an inferior, and, I may say, dependent one; for it is 
pretty obvious that if General Howe can be kept at bay, and 
prevented from effecting his purposes, the successes of Gen- 
eral JBurgoyne, whatever they may be, must be partial and 

The sagacity and foresight of this policy will be mani- 
fested by after events. 

On the same day on which the above letter was written, 
he officially announced to Gates his appointment, and desired 
him to proceed immediately to the place of his destination : 
wishing him success, and that he '* might speedily be able to 
restore the face of affairs in that quarter." 

About this time took effect a measure of Congress, mak- 

474 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top Iruip^ 

ing a complete change in the commissariat. This important 
and complicated department had hitherto been under the 
management of one commissary-general, Colonel Joseph 
Trumbull of Connecticut. By the new arrangement there 
were to be two commissaries -general, one of purchases, the 
other of issues; each to be appointed by Congress. They 
were to have several deputy commissaries under them, but 
accountable to Congress, and to be appointed and removed 
by that body. These, and many subordinate arrangements, 
had been adopted in opposition to the opinion of Washing- 
ton, and, most unfortunately, were brought into operation 
in the midst of this perplexed and critical campaign. 

The first effect was to cause the resignation of Colonel 
Trumbull, who had been nominated commissary of pur- 
chases; and the entrance into office of a number of inexpe- 
rienced men. The ultimate effect was to paralyze the organi- 
zation of this vital department ; to cause delay and confusion 
in furnishing and forwarding supplies; and to retard and 
embarrass the operations of the different armies throughout 
the year. "Washington had many dangers and difficulties to 

harass and perplex him throughout this complicated cam- 
paign, and not among the least may be classed the ''stum- 
blings of Congress." 


An author, eminent for his historical researches, expresses 
himself at a loss to explain the prejudice existing against 
General Schuyler among the people of the New England 
States. "There was not an individual connected with the 
Revolution," observes he, "concerning whom there is more 
abundant evidence of his patriotism and unwearied services 
in the cause of his country." 

Cife of U/a8l?ii7<^toi> 475 

"Wilkinson, at that time a devoted follower of Gates, and 
likely to know the influences that operated against his rival, 
traces this prejudice up to times prior to the Revolution, 
when Schuyler acted as commissioner on the part of New 
York in settling the partition line between that colony and 
Massachusetts Bay. This gave rise to the feuds and con- 
troversies concerning the Hampshire Grants, in which, ac- 
cording to Wilkinson, the parties were distinguished by the 
designations of Yankee and Yorker. The zealous exertions 
of Schuyler on behalf of New York gained him the ill will 
of the Hampshire grantees, and of Eastern men of the first 
rank with whom he came in collision. This feeling survived 
the controversy, and existed among the militia from those 
parts. On the other hand, Wilkinson observes, **It was 
General Gates's policy to favor the views of the inhabitants 
of the Hampshire Grants, which made him popular with 
these people." 

Somewhat of the prejudice against Schuyler "Wilkinson 
ascribes to social habits and manners, "those of New Eng- 
land at the time being democratic and puritanical, while in 
New York they were courtly and aristocratical. " Schuyler 
was a man of the world, and of society, cultivated, and well- 
bred ; he was an eleve too of Major-general Bradstreet in the 
seven years' war; and had imbibed notions of military car- 
riage and decorum in an aristocratic school ; all this ren- 
dered him impatient at times of the deficiencies in these 
respects among the raw militia officers, and made the latter 
consider him haughty and reserved. 


476 U/orKs of U/a8l7iQ^tor> IruiQ^ 


Washington's Perplexities about the British Fleet — Putnam and 
Governor Clinton put on the Alert in the Highlands — Morgan 
and his Riflemen sent to the North— Washington at Philadelphia 
— His first Interview with Lafayette — Intelligence about the 
Fleet — Explanations of its Movements — Review of the Army — 
Lafayette mistakes the nature of his Commission — His Alliance 
with Washington — March of the Army through Philadelphia- 
Encampment at Wilmington 

For several days "Washington remained at Germantown 
in painful uncertainty about the British fleet; whether gone 
to the south or to the east. The intense heat of the weather 
made him unwilling again to move his army, already ex- 
cessively harassed by marchings and counter-marchings. 
Concluding, at length, that the fleet had actually gone to 
the east, he was once more on the way to recross the Dela- 
ware, when an express overtook him on the 10th of August, 
with tidings that three days before it had been seen off 
Sinepuxent Inlet, about sixteen leagues south of the Capes 
of Delaware. 

Again he came to a halt, and waited for further intelli- 
gence. Danger suggested itself from a different quarter. 
Might it not be Howe's plan, by thus appearing with his 
ships at different places, to lure the army after him, and 
thereby leave the country open for Sir Henry Clinton with 
the troops at New York to form a junction with Burgoyne? 
"With this idea Washington wrote forthwith to the veteran 
Putnam to be on the alert; collect all the force he could to 

Cife of lI/a8l?ii)^toi> 477 

strengthen his post at Peekskill, and send down spies to 
ascertain whether Sir Henry Clinton was actually at New 
York, and what troops he had there. "If he has the num- 
ber of men with him that is reported, ' ' observes "Washing- 
ton, *4t is probably with the intention to attack you from 
below, while Burgoyne comes down upon you from above." 

The old general, whose boast it was that he never slept 
but with one eye, was already on the alert. A circumstance 
had given him proof positive that Sir Henry was in New 
York, and had roused his military ire. A spy, sent by that 
commander, had been detected furtively collecting informa- 
tion of the force and condition of the post at Peekskill, and 
had undergone a military trial. A vessel of war came up 
the Hudson in all haste, and landed a flag of truce at Ver- 
planck's Point, by which a message was transmitted to Put- 
nam from Sir Henry Clinton, claiming Edmund Palmer as 
a lieutenant in the British service. 

The reply of the old general was brief but emphatic. 

"Headquarters, 7th Aug., 1777. 
"Edmund Palmer, an officer in the enemy's service, was 
taken as a spy lurking within our lines ; he has been tried as 
a spy, condemned as a spy, and shall be executed as a spy ; 
and the flag is ordered to depart immediately. 

'* Israel Putnam." 

**P.S. — He has, accordingly, been executed." 

Governor Clinton, the other guardian of the Highlands, 
and actually at his post at Fort Montgomery, was equally 
on the alert. He had faithfully followed Washington's di- 
rections, in ordering out militia from different counties to 
re- enforce his own garrison and the army under Schuyler. 

478 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^top Irv'iT)^ 

**T never knew the militia come out with greater alacrity," 
writes he; *'but, as many of them have yet a great part of 
their harvests in the field, I fear it will be difficult to detain 
them long, unless the enemy will make some movements 
that indicate a design of coming this way suddenly, and so 
obvious as to be believed by the militia." 

At the same time the worthy governor expressed his sur- 
prise that the Northern army had not been re-enforced from 
the eastward. "The want of confidence in the general offi- 
cers to the northward," adds he, *'is the specious reason. 
To me it appears to be a very weak one. Common grati- 
tude to a sister State, as well as duty to the continent at 
large, conspire in calling on our Eastern neighbors to step 
forth on this occasion." 

One measure more was taken by "Washington, during 
this interval, in aid of the Northern department. The In- 
dians who accompanied Burgoyne were objects of great 
dread to the American troops, especially the militia. As 
a counterpoise to them, he now sent up Colonel Morgan 
with five hundred riflemen, to fight them in their own way. 
"They are all chosen men,*' said he, "selected from the 
army at large, and well acquainted with the use of rifles and 
with that mode of fighting. I expect the most eminent ser- 
vices from them, and I shall be mistaken if their presence 
does not go far toward producing a general desertion among 
the savages." It was, indeed, an arm of strength, which 
he could but ill spare from his own army. 

Putnam was directed to have sloops ready to transport 
them up the Hudson, and Gates was informed of their being 
on their way, and about what time he might expect them, 
as well as two regiments from Peekskill, under Colonels Van 
Courtlandt and Livingston. 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($toi> 479 

"With these re-enforcements, besides the militia under 
General Lincoln," writes Washington to Gates, "I am in 
hopes you will find yourself at least equal to stop the prog- 
ress of Mr. Burgoyne, and, by cutting off his supplies of 
provisions, to render his situation very ineligible." Wash- 
ington was thus, in a manner, carrying on two games at 
once, with Howe on the seaboard and with Burgoyne on the 
upper waters of the Hudson, and endeavoring by skillful 
movements to give check to both. It was an arduous and 
complicated task, especially with his scanty and fluctuating 
means, and the wide extent of country and great distances 
over which he had to move his men. 

His measures to throw a force in the rear of Burgoyne 
were now in a fair way of being carried into effect. Lin- 
coln was at Bennington. Stark had joined him with a body 
of New Hampshire militia, and a corps of Massachusetts 
militia was arriving. "Such a force in his rear,'* observed 
Washington, "will oblige Burgoyne to leave such strong 
posts behind as must make his main body very weak, and 
extremely capable of being repulsed by the force we have in 

During his encampment in the neighborhood of Phila- 
delphia, Washington was repeatedly at that city, making 
himself acquainted with the military capabilities of the place 
and its surrounding country, and directing the construction 
of fortifications on the river. In one of these visits he be- 
came acquainted with the young Marquis de Lafayette, who 
had recently arrived from France, in company with a num- 
ber of French, Polish, and German officers, among whom 
was the Baron de Kalb. The marquis was not quite twenty 
years of age, yet had already been married nearly three 
years to a lady of rank and fortune. Full of the romance 

480 U/orKs of U/a8)?i9^tor> IrulQ^ 

of liberty, he had torn himself from his youthful bride, 
turned his back upon the gayeties and splendors of a court, 
and in defiance of impediments and difficulties multiplied in 
his path, had made his way to America to join its hazardous 

He sent in his letters of recommendation to Mr. Lovell, 
Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs ; and appHed 
the next day at the door of Congress to know his success. 
Mr. Lovell came forth and gave him but httle encourage- 
ment ; Congress, in fact, was embarrassed by the number of 
foreign appUcations, many without merit. Lafayette imme- 
diately sent in the following note: "After many sacrifices, I 
have the right to ask two favors ; one is to serve at my own 
expense; the other to commence by serving as a volunteer."* 

This simple appeal had its effect : it called attention to 
his peculiar case, and Congress resolved, on the 3 1st of July, 
that in consideration of his zeal, his illustrious f^nily and 
connections, be should have the rank of major-general in the 
army of the United States. 

It was at a public dinner, where a number of members 
of Congress were present, that Lafayette first saw Washing- 
ton. He immediately knew him, he said, from the officers 
who surrounded him, by his commanding air and person. 
When the party was breaking up, Washington took him 
aside, complimented him in a gracious manner on his disin- 
terested zeal and the generosity of his conduct, and invited 
him to make headquarters his home. **I cannot promise 
you the luxuries of a court," said he, **but as you have be- 
come an American soldier, you will, doubtless, accommodate 
yourself to the fare of an American army. 


Memoires du Gea Lafayette, tom. i., p. 19. 

Cife of U/a8l?ip($tor> 481 

Many days had now elapsed without further tidings of 
the fleet. What had become of it? Had Howe gone against 
Charleston? If so, the distance was too great to think of 
following him. Before the army, debilitated and wasted by 
a long march, under a summer sun, in an unhealthy climate, 
could reach there, he might accomplish every purpose he 
had in ,view, and re-embark his troops to turn his arms 
against Philadelphia, or any other point, without the army 
being at hand to oppose him. 

What, under these uncertainties, was to be done? remain 
inactive, in the remote probability of Howe's returning this 
way; or proceed to the Hudson with a view either to oppose 
Burgoyne, or make an attempt upon !N"ew York? A suc- 
cessful stroke with respect to either might make up for any 
losses sustained in the South. The latter was unanimously 
determined in a council of war, in which the Marquis de 
Lafayette took part. As it was, however, a movement that 
might involve the most important consequences, Washington 
sent his aid-de-camp. Colonel Alexander Hamilton, with a 
letter to the President of Congress, requesting the opinion 
of that body. Congress approved the decision of the coun- 
cil, and the army was about to be put in march, when all 
these tormenting uncertainties were brought to an end by 
intelligence that the fleet had actually entered the Chesa- 
peake, and anchored at Swan Point, at least two hundred 
miles within the capes. *'By General Howe's coming so far 
up the Chesapeake," writes Washington, '*he must mean to 
reach Philadelphia by that route, though to be sure it is a 
strange one." 

The mystery of these various appearances and vanish- 

ings, which had caused so much wonder and perplexity, is 

easily explained. Shortly before putting to sea with the 
Vol. Xm,— ***21 

482 U/orl^s of U/aslpir)($top Iruii>^ 

ships of war, Howe had sent a number of transports, and a 
ship cut down as a floating battery, up the Hudson, which 
had induced Washington to dispatch troops to the High- 
lands. After putting to sea, the fleet was a week in reach- 
ing the Capes of Delaware. When there, the commanders 
were deterred from entering the river by reports of measures 
taken to obstruct its navigation. It was then determined to 
make for Chesapeake Bay, and approach, in that way, as 
near as possible to Philadelphia. Contrary winds, however, 
kept them for a long time from getting into the bay. 

Lafayette, in his Memoirs, describes a review of Wash- 
ington's army which he witnessed about this time. ''Eleven 
thousand men, but tolerably armed, and still worse clad, 
presented," he said, **a singular spectacle; in this party-col- 
ored and often naked state, the best dresses were hunting 
shirts of brown linen. Their tactics were equally irregular. 
They were arranged without regard to size, excepting that 
the smallest men were the front rank; with all this, there 
were good-looking soldiers conducted by zealous officers." 

*'We ought to feel embarrassed," said Washington to 
him, "in presenting ourselves before an officer just from the 
French army." 

"It is to learn, and not to instruct, that I come here," 
was Lafayette's apt and modest reply; and it gained him 
immediate popularity. 

The marquis, however, had misconceived the nature of 
his appointment ; his commission was merely honorary, but 
he had supposed it given with a view to the command of a 
division of the army. This misconception on his part caused 
Washington some embarrassment. The marquis, with his 
characteristic vivacity and ardor, was eager for immediate 
employ. He admitted that he was young and inexperienced, 


Irving, Vol. Thirteen, p. 479. 

Cife of U/a8l7ir)<$top 483 

but always accompanied the admission with the assurance 
that, so soon as "Washington should think him fit for the 
command of a division, he would be ready to enter upon 
the duties of it, and, in the meantime, offered his services 
for a smaller command. ''What the designs of Congress 
respecting this gentleman are, and what line of conduct T 
am to pursue to comply with their design and his expec- 
tations," writes Washington, "I know not, and beg to 
be instructed." 

**The numberless applications for employment by for- 
eigners under their respective appointments," continues he, 
**add no small embarrassment to a command, which, with- 
out it, is abundantly perplexed by the different tempers I 
have to do with, and the different modes which the respect- 
ive States have pursued in nominating and arranging their 
officers; the combination of all which is but too just a 
representation of a great chaos, from whence we are en» 
deavoring, how successfully time only can show, to draw 
some regularity and order, ^"^ * How truly is here depicted 
one of the great difficulties of his command, continually task- 
ing his equity and equanimity. In the present instance it 
was intimated to Washington that he was not bound by the 
tenor of Lafayette's commission to give him a command ; 
but was at liberty to follow his own judgment in the matter. 
This still left him in a delicate situation with respect to the 
marquis, whose prepossessing manners and self-sacrificing 
zeal inspired regard; but whose extreme youth and inexpe- 
rience necessitated caution. Lafayette, however, from the 
first attached himself to Washington with an affectionate 
reverence, the sincerity of which could not be mistaken, and 

Washington to Benjamin Harrison. Sparks, v, 35. 

484 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^top Irulp^ 

soon won his way into a heart, which, with all its apparent 
coldness, was naturally confiding and required sympathy and 
friendship; and it is a picture well worthy to be hung up in 
history — this cordial and enduring alliance of the calm, dig- 
nified, sedate "Washington, mature in years and wisdom, and 
the young, buoyant, enthusiastic Lafayette. 

The several divisions of the armj- had been summoned to 
the immediate neighborhood of Philadelphia, and the militia 
of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the northern parts of Vir- 
ginia, were called out. Many of the militia, with Colonel 
Proctor's corps of artillery, had been ordered to rendezvous 
at Chester on the Delaware, about twelve miles below Phila- 
delphia; and by Washington's orders, General "Wayne left 
his brigade under the next in command, and repaired to 
Chester, to arrange the troops assembling there. 

As there had been much disaffection to the cause evinced 
in Philadelphia, "Washington, in order to encourage its friends 
and dishearten its enemies, marched with the whole army 
through the city, down Front and up Chestnut Street. Great 
pains were taken to make the display as imposing as possible. 
All were charged to keep to their ranks, carry their arms 
well, and step in time to the music of the drums and fifes, 
collected in the center of each brigade. '* Though indiffer- 
ently dressed," says a spectator, ^'they held well-burnished 
arms, and carried them like soldiers, and looked, in short, as 
if they might have faced an equal number with a reasonable 
prospect of success." To give them something of a uniform 
appearance, they had sprigs of green in their hats. 

Washington rode at the head of the troops attended by 
his numerous staff, with the Marquis Lafayette by his side. 
The long column of the army, broken into di\^sions and bri- 
gades, the pioneers with their axes, the squadrons of horse, 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 485 

the extended trains of artillery, the tramp of steed, the bray 
of trumpet, and the spirit-stirring sound of drum and fife, 
all had an imposing effect on a peaceful city unused to the 
sight of marshaled armies. The disaffected, who had been 
taught to believe the American forces much less than they 
were in reality, were astonished as they gazed on the length- 
ening procession of a host, which, to their unpracticed eyes, 
appeared innumerable; while the whigs, gaining fresh hope 
and animation from the sight, cheered the patriot squadrons 
as they passed. 

Having marched through Philadelphia, the army con- 
tinued on to Wilmington, at the confluence of Christiana 
Creek and the Brandy wine, where "Washington set up his 
headquarters, his troops being encamped on the neighboring 

We will now revert to the other object of Washington's 
care and solicitude, the invading army of Burgoyne in the 
North; and will see how far his precautionary measures 
were effective. 


Burgoyne at Skenesborough — Prepares to move toward the Hudson 
— Major Skene the Royalist — Slow March to Fort Anne — Schuy- 
ler at Fort Miller — Painted Warriors — Langlade — St. Luc — 
Honor of the Tomahawk — Tragical Story of Miss McCrea — 
Its Results — Burgoyne advances to Fort Edward — Schuyler at 
Stillwater — Joined by Lincoln — Burgoyne deserted by his In- 
dian Allies 

In a preceding chapter we left Burgoyne, early in July, 
at Skenesborough, of which he had just gained possession. 
He remained there nearly three weeks, awaiting the arrival 

486 U/orKs of U/asl^ip^toi? Iruip^ 

of the residue of his troops, with tents, baggage, and provis- 
ions, and preparing for his grand move toward the Hudson 
River. Many royahsts flocked to his standard. One of the 
most important was Major Skene, from whom the place was 
named, being its founder and the owner of much land in its 
neighborhood. He had served in the French war, but re- 
tired on half pay; bought "soldiers' grants" of land lying 
within this township at a trifling price, had their titles 
secured by royal patent, and thus made a fortune. Bur- 
goyne considered him a valuable adjunct and counselor, and 
frequently took advice from him in his campaign through 
this part of the country. 

The progress of the army toward the Hudson was slow 
and difi&cult, in consequence of the impediments which 
Schuyler had multiplied in his way during his long halt at 
Skenesborough. Bridges broken down had to be rebuilt; 
great trees to be removed which had been felled across the 
roads and into Wood Creek, which stream was completely 
choked. It was not until the latter part of July that Bur- 
goyne reached Fort Anne. At his approach. General Schuy- 
ler retired from Fort Edward and took post at Fort Miller, 
a few miles lower down the Hudson. 

The Indian allies who had hitherto accompanied the Brit- 
ish army had been more troublesome than useful. Neither 
Burgoyne nor his officers understood their language, but 
were obliged to communicate with them through Canadian 
interpreters; too often designing knaves, w^ho played false to 
both parties; the Indians, too, were of the tribes of Lower 
Canada, corrupted and debased by intercourse with white 
men. It had been found difficult to draw them from the 
plunder of Ticonderoga, or to restrain their murderous pro- 

Cife of U/a8l7ip($top 487 

A party had recently arrived of a different stamp. Braves 
of the Ottawa and other tribes from the upper country; 
painted and decorated with savage magnificence, and bear- 
ing trophies of former triumphs. They were, in fact, ac- 
cording to Burgoyne, the very Indians who had aided the 
French in the defeat of Braddock, and were under the con- 
duct of two French leaders; one, named Langlade, had com- 
mand of them on that very occasion ; the other, named St. 
Luc, is described by Burgoyne as a Canadian gentleman of 
honor and abilities, and one of the best partisans of the 
French in the war of 1756. 

Burgoyne trusted to his newly arrived Indians to give a 
check to the operations of Schuyler, knowing the terror they 
inspired throughout the country. He thought also to em- 
ploy them in a wild foray to the Connecticut River, to force 
a supply of provisions, intercept re-enforcements to the Amer- 
ican army, and confirm the jealousy which he had, in many 
ways, endeavored to excite in the New England provinces. 
He was naturall}^ a humane man, and disliked Indian allies, 
but these had hitherto served in company with civilized 
troops, and he trusted to the influence possessed over them 
by St. Luc and Langlade to keep them within the usages 
of war. A circumstance occurred, however, which showed 
how little the *'wild honor" of these warriors of the toma- 
hawk is to be depended upon. 

In General Fraser's division was a young officer. Lieu- 
tenant David Jones, an American loyalist. His family had 
their home in the vicinity of Fort Edward before the Revo- 
lution. A mutual attachment had taken place between the 
youth and a beautiful girl, Jane McCrea. She was the 
daughter of a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman of the Jerseys, 
some time deceased, and resided with her brother on th^ 

438 U/orHfi of U/a8l?ii)^toi) Irvir)^ 

banks of the Hudson a few miles below Fort Edward. The 
lovers were engaged to be married, when the breaking out 
of the war severed families and disturbed all the relations of 
life. The Joneses were royalists ; the brother of Miss McCrea 
was a stanch whig. The former removed to Canada, where 
David Jones was among the most respectable of those who 
joined the royal standard, and received a lieutenant's com- 

The attachment between the lovers continued, and it is 
probable that a correspondence was kept up between them. 
Lieutenant Jones was now in Eraser's camp; in his old 
neighborhood. Miss McCrea was on a visit to a widow lady, 
Mrs. O'Keil, residing at Fort Edward. The approach of 
Burgoyne's army had spread an alarm through the country ; 
the inhabitants were flying from their homes. The brother 
of Miss McCrea determined to remove to Albany, and sent 
for his sister to return home and make ready to accompany 
him. She hesitated to obey. He sent a more urgent mes- 
sage, representing the danger of lingering near the fort, 
which must inevitably fall into the hands of the enemy. 
Still she lingered. The lady with whom she was a guest 
was a royalist, a friend of General Fraser ; her roof would 
be respected. Even should Fort Edward be captured, what 
had Jane to fear? Her lover was in the British camp ; the 
capture of the fort would reunite them. 

Her brother's messages now became peremptory. She 
prepared, reluctantly, to obey, and was to embark in a large 
bateau which was to convey several families down the river. 
The very morning when the embarkation was to take place 
the neighborhood was a scene of terror. A marauding party 
of Indians, sent out by Burgoyne to annoy General Schuyler, 
were harassing the coimtry. Several of them burst into the 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toQ 489 

house of Mrs. O'Neil, sacked and plundered, it, and carried 
off her and Miss McCrea prisoners. In her fright the latter 
promised the savages a large reward, if they would spare 
her life and take her in safety to the British camp. It was 
a fatal promise. Halting at a spring, a quarrel arose among 
the savages, inflamed most probably with drink, as to whose 
prize she was, and who was entitled to the reward. The 
dispute became furious, and one, in a paroxysm of rage, 
killed her on the spot. He completed the savage act by 
bearing off her scalp as a trophy. 

General Burgoyne was struck with horror when he heard 
of this bloody deed. What at first heightened the atrocity 
was a report that the Indians had been sent by Lieutenant 
Jones to bring Miss McCrea to the camp. This he po^:;i,iveIy 
denied, and his denial was believed. Burgoyne summonea 
a council of the Indian chiefs, in which he insisted that the 
murderer of Miss McCrea should be given up to receive the 
reward of his crime. The demand produced a violent agi- 
tation. The culprit was a great warrior, a chief, and the 
**wild honor" of his brother sachems was roused in his be- 
half. St. Luc took Burgoyne aside and entreated him not 
to push the matter to extremities; assuring him that, from 
what was passing among the chiefs, he was sure they and 
their warriors would all abandon the army, should the de- 
linquent be executed. The British officers also interfered, 
representing the danger that might accrue should the In- 
dians return through Canada, with their savage resentments 
awakened, or, what was worse, should they go over to the 

Burgoyne was thus reluctantly brought to spare the 
offender, but thenceforth made it a rule that no party of 
Indians should be permitted to go forth on a foray unless 

490 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir?^tor) Iruir)<$ 

under the conduct of a British officer, or some other com- 
petent person, who should be responsible for their behavior. 

The mischief to the British cause, however, had been 
effected. The murder of Miss McCrea resounded throughout 
the land, counteracting all the benefit anticipated from the 
terror of Indian hostilities. Those people of the frontiers 
who had hitherto remained quiet now flew to arms to defend 
their families and firesides. In their exasperation they 
looked beyond the savages to their employers. They ab- 
horred an army, which, professing to be civilized, could 
league itself with such barbarians; and they execrated a 
government, which, pretending to reclaim them as subjects, 
could let loose such fiends to desolate their homes. 

The hiood of this unfortunate girl, therefore, was not 
rbed in vain. Armies sprang up from it. Her name passed 
as a note of alarm along the banks of the Hudson; it was 
a rallying word among the Green Mountains of Vermont, 
and brought down all their hardy yeomanry.* 

As Burgoyne advanced to Fort Edward, Schuyler fell 

* The sad story of Miss McCrea, like many other inci- 
dents of the Revolution, has been related in such a variety 
of ways, and so wrought up by tradition, that it is difficult 
now to get at the simple truth. Some of the above circum- 
stances were derived from a niece of Miss McCrea, whom 
the author met upward of fifty years ago, at her residence 
on the banks of the St. Lawrence. A stone, with her name 
cut on it, still marks the grave of Miss McCrea near the 
ruins of Fort Edward; and a tree is pointed out near which 
she was murdered. Lieutenant Jones is said to have been 
completely broken in spirit by the shock of her death. Pro- 
curing her scalp, with its long silken tresses, he brooded over 
it in anguish, and preserved it as a sad, but precious relic. 
Disgusted with the service, he threw up his commission and 
retired to Canada ; never marrying, but living to be an old 
man; taciturn and melancholy, and haunted by painful 

Cife of U/asI?ir>($toi7 491 

still further back, and took post at Saratoga, or rather Still- 
water, about thirty miles from Albany. He had been joined 
by Major-general Lincoln, who, according to Washington's 
directions, had hastened to his assistance. In pursuance of 
Washington's plans, Lincoln proceeded to Manchester in 
Vermont, to take command of the militia forces collecting 
at that point. His presence inspired new confidence in the 
country people, who were abandoning their homes, leaving 
their crops ungathered, and taking refuge with their families 
in the lower towns. He found about five hundred militia 
assembled at Manchester, under Colonel Seth Warner ; others 
were coming on from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 
to protect their uncovered frontier. His letters, dated the 
4th of August, expressed the expectation of being, in a few 
days, at the head of at least two thousand men. With 
these, according to Washington's plan, he was to hang on 
the flank and rear of Burgoyne's army, cramp its move- 
ments, and watch for an opportunity to strike a blow. 

Burgoyne was now at Fort Edward. **The enthusiasm 
of the army, as well as of the general, upon their arrival on 
the Hudson River, which had been so long the object of their 
hopes and wishes, may be better conceived than described," 
Bays a British writer of the day. The enthusiasm of the 
general was soon checked, however, by symptoms of ill 
humor among his Indian allies. They resented his conduct 
in regard to the affair of Miss McCrea; and were impatient 
under the restraint to which they were subjected. He sus- 
pected the Canadian interpreters of fomenting this discon- 
tent; they being accustomed to profit by the rapine of the 
Indians. At the earnest request of St. Luc, in whom he 
still had confidence, he called a council of the chiefs ; when, 
to his astonishment, the tribe for whom that gentleman acted 

492 U/or^s of U/asl^iQ^tor) IruiQ^ 

as interpreter declared their intention of returning home, 
and demanded his concurrence and assistance. 

Burgoyne was greatly embarrassed. Should he acquiesce, 
it would be to relinquish the aid of a force obtained at an 
immense expense, esteemed in England of great importance, 
and which really was serviceable in furnishing scouts and 
outposts; yet he saw that a cordial reconciliation with them 
could only be effected by revoking his prohibitions, and 
indulging their propensities to blood and rapine. 

To his credit be it recorded, he adhered to what was 
right and rejected what might be deemed expedient. He 
refused their proposition, and persisted in the restraints he 
had imposed upon them, bui; appealed to the wild honor, 
of which he yet considered them capable, by urging the ties of 
faith, of generosity, of everything that has an influence with 
civilized man. His speech appeared to have a good effect. 
Some of the remote tribes made zealous professions of loyalty 
and adhesion. Others, of Lower Canada, only asked fur- 
loughs for parties to return home and gather in their harvests. 
These were readily granted, and perfect harmony seemed 
restored. The next day, however, the chivalry of the 
wilderness deserted by scores, laden with such spoil as they 
had collected in their maraudings. These desertions con- 
tinued from day to day, until there remained in the camp 
scarce a vestige of the savage warriors that had joined the 
army at Skenesborough. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toi) 493 


Difficulties of Burgoyne — Plans an Expedition to Bennington— St. 
Leger before Fort Stanwix — General Herkimer at Oriskany — 
High Words with his Officers — A Dogged March — An Ambus- 
cade — Battle of Oriskany — Johnson's Greens — Death of Herki- 
mer— Spirited Sortie of Colonel Willett — Sir John Johnson 
driven to the River — Flight of the Indians — Sacking of Sir 
John's Camp — Colonel Gansevoort maintains his Post — Colonel 
Willett sent in quest of Aid — Arrives at Schuyler's Camp 

New difficulties beset Burgoyne at Fort Edward. The 
horses which had been contracted for in Canada, for draft, 
burden, and saddle, arrived slowly and scantily; having to 
come a long distance through the wilderness. Artillery and 
munitions, too, of all kinds, had to be brought from Ticon- 
deroga by the way of Lake George. These, with a vast 
number of boats for freight, or to form bridges, it was neces- 
sary to transport over the carrying- places between the lakes; 
and by land from Fort George to Fort Edward. Unfortu- 
nately, the army had not the requisite supply of horses and 
oxen. So far from being able to bring forward provisions 
for a march, it was with difficulty enough could be furnished 
to feed the army from day to day. 

While thus situated, Burgoyne received intelligence that 
the part of his army which he had detached from Canada 
under Colonel St. Leger, to proceed by Lake Ontario and 
Oswego and make a diversion on the Mohawk, had pene- 
trated to that river, and were actually investing Fort Stan- 
wix, the stronghold of that part of the country. 

To carry out the original plan of his campaign, it now 

494 U/orKs of U/a8l7ir)($top IruiQ^ 

behooved him to make a rapid move down the Hudson, so 
as to be at hand to co-operate with St. Leger on his approach 
to Albany. But how was he to do this, deficient as he was 
in horses and vehicles for transportation? In this dilemma 
Colonel (late Major) Skene, the royalist of Skenesborough, 
to whom, from his knoweldge of all this region, he had of 
late resorted for counsel, informed him that at Bennington, 
about twenty-four miles east of the Hudson, the Americans 
had a great depot of horses, carriages, and supplies of all 
kinds, intended for their Northern army. This place, he 
added, might easily be surprised, being guarded by only a 
small militia force. 

An expedition was immediately set on foot; not only to 
surprise this place, but to scour the country from Rocking- 
ham to Otter Creek; go down the Connecticut as far as 
Brattleborough, and return by the great road to Albany, 
there to meet Burgoyne. They were to make prisoners of 
all officers, civil and military, whom they might meet acting 
under Congress; to tax the towns where they halted with 
everything they stood in need of, and bring off all horses 
fit for the dragoons, or for battalion service, with as many 
saddles and bridles as could be found. 

They were everywhere to give out that this was the van- 
guard of the British army, which would soon follow on its 
way to Boston, and would be joined by the army from Rhode 

Before relating the events of this expedition, we will 
turn to notice those of the detachment under St. Leger, 
with which it was intended to co-operate, and which was 
investing Fort Schuyler. 

This fort, built in 1756, on the site of an old French forti- 
fication, and formerly called Fort Stanwix, from a British 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($top 495 

general of that name, was situated on the right bank of the 
Mohawk River, at the head of its navigation, and command- 
ing the carrying-place between it and "W ood Creek whence 
the boats passed to the Oneida Lake, the Oswego River, and 
Lake Ontario. It was thus a key to the intercourse between 
Upper Canada and the valley of the Mohawk. The fort was 
square, with four bastions, and was originally a place of 
strength; having bomb-proof magazines, a deep moat and 
drawbridge, a sally port, and covered way. In the lon^ 
interval of peace subsequent to the French war it had fallen 
to decay. Recently it had been repaired by order of General 
Schuyler, and had received his name. It was garrisoned 
by seven hundred and fifty Continental troops from New 
York and Massachusetts, and was under the command of 
Colonel Gansevoort of the New York line, a stout-hearted 
officer of Dutch descent, who had served under General 
Montgomery in Canada. 

It was a motley force which appeared before it ; British, 
Hessian, Royalist, Canadian, and Indian, about seventeen 
hundred in all. Among them were St. Leger's rangers and 
Sir John Johnson's royalist corps, called his greens. Many 
of the latter had followed Sir John into Canada from the 
valley of the Mohawk, and were now returned to bring 
the horrors of war among their former neighbors; the In- 
dians, their worthy allies, were led by the famous Brant. 

On the 3d of August, St. Leger sent in a flag with a 
summons to surrender; accompanied by a proclamation in 
style and spirit similar to that recently issued by Burgoyne, 
and intended to operate on the garrison. Both his summons 
and his proclamation were disregarded. He now set his 
troops to work to fortify his camp and clear obstructions 
from "Wood Creek and the roads, for the transportation of 

496 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir>^toi> Iru!t>^ 

artillery and provisions, and sent out scouting parties of In- 
dians in all directions, to cut off all communication of the 
garrison with the surrounding country. A few shells were 
thrown into the fort. The chief annoyance of the garrison 
was from the Indians firing with their rifles from behind 
trees on those busied in repairing the parapets. At night 
they seemed completely to surround the fort, filling the 
woods with their yells and bowlings. 

On the 6th of August three men made their way into 
the fort through a swamp, which the enemy had deemed 
impassable. They brought the cheering intelligence that 
General Herkimer, the veteran commander of the militia of 
Tryon County, was at Oriskany, about eight miles distant, 
with upward of eight hundred men. The people of that 
country were many of them of German origin; some of 
them Germans by birth. Herkimer was among the former, 
a large and powerful man, about sixty-five years of age. 
He requested Colonel Gansevoort, through his two mes- 
sengers, to fire three signal-guns on receiving word of his 
vicinage; upon hearing which, he would endeavor to force 
his way to the fort, depending upon the co-operation of the 

The messengers had been dispatched by Herkimer on the 
evening of the 5th, and he had calculated that they would 
reach the fort at a very early hour in the morning. Through 
some delay, they did not reach it until between ten and 
eleven o'clock. Gansevoort instantly complied with the 
message. Three signal-guns were fired, and Colonel Willett, 
of the New York Continentals, with two hundred and fifty 
men and an iron three pounder, was detached to make a 
diversion, by attacking that part of the enemy's camp occu- 
pied by Johnson and his royalists. 

Cife of U/asI^ip^top 497 

The delay of the messengers in the night, however, dis- 
concerted the plan of Herkimer. He marshaled his troops 
by daybreak and waited for the signal-guns. Hour after 
hour elapsed, but no gun was heard. His officers became 
impatient of delay, and urged an immediate march. Her- 
kimer represented that they were too weak to force their 
way to the fort without re-enforcements, or without being 
sure of co-operation from the garrison, and was still for 
awaiting the preconcerted signals. High words ensued 
between him and two of his officers. He had a brother 
and other relatives among the enemy, and hence there was 
some doubts of his fidelity ; though they subsequently proved 
to be unmerited. Colonels Cox and Paris were particularly 
urgent for an advance, and suspicious of the motives for 
holding back. Paris was a prominent man in Try on County, 
and member of the committee of safety, and, in compliance 
with the wishes of that committee, accompanied Herkimer 
as his volunteer aid. Losing his temper in the dispute, he 
accused the latter of being either a tory or a coward. *^No," 
replied the brave old man, *'I feel toward you all as a father, 
and will not lead you into a scrape from which I cannot 
extricate you," His discretion, however, was overpowered 
by repeated taunts, and he at length, about nine o'clock, 
gave the word to march; intimating, however, that those 
who were the most eager to advance would be the first to 
run away. 

The march was rather dogged and irregular. There was 
ill-humor between the general and his officers. Colonels 
Paris and Cox advised him to throw out a reconnoitering 
party in the advance, but he disregarded their advice, and 
perhaps, in very opposition to it, neglected so necessary a 
precaution. About ten o'clock they came to a place where 

498 U/or^s of lI/a8l?iQ^tor> IruiQ^ 

the road was carried on a causeway of logs across a deep, 
marshy ravine between high level banks. The main division 
descended into the ravine, followed by the baggage-wagons. 
They had scarcely crossed it when enemies suddenly sprang 
up in front and on each side, with deadly volleys of mus- 
ketry, and deafening yells and war-whoops. In fact, St. 
Leger, apprised by his scouts of their intended approach, had 
sent a force to waylay them. This was composed of a 
division of Johnson's greens, led by his brother-in-law, 
Major Watts ; a company of rangers under Colonel Butler, 
a refugee from this neighborhood, and a strong body of 
Indians under Brant. The troops were stationed in front 
just beyond the ravine; the Indians along each side of the 
road. The plan of the ambuscade was to let the van of 
the Americans pass the ravine and advance between the 
concealed parties, when the attack was to be commenced by 
the troops in front, after which the Indians were to fall on 
the Americans in rear and cut off all retreat. 

The savages, however, could not restrain their natural 
ferocity and hold back as ordered, but discharged their rifles 
simultaneously with the troops, and instantly rushed for- 
ward with spears and tomahawks, yelling like demons, and 
commencing a dreadful butchery. The rearguard, which 
had not entered the ravine, retreated. The main body, 
though thrown into confusion, defended themselves bravely. 
One of those severe conflicts ensued, common in Indian war- 
fare, where the combatants take post with their rifles, behind 
rock and tree, or come to deadly struggle with knife and 

The veteran Herkimer was wounded early in the action. 
A musket ball shattered his leg just below the knee, killing 
his horse at the same time. He made his men place him 

Cife of U/asl^ip^tor) 499 

on his saddle at the foot of a large beech tree, against the 
trunk of which he leaned, continuing to give his orders. 

The regulars attempted to charge with the bayonet; but 
the Americans formed' themselves in circles back to back, 
and repelled them. A heavy storm of thunder and rain 
caused a temporary lull to the fight, during which the 
patriots changed their ground. Some of them stationed 
themselves in pairs behind trees ; so that when one had fired 
the other could cover him until he had reloaded; for the 
savages were apt to rush up with knife and tomahawk the 
moment a man had discharged his piece. Johnson's greens 
came up to sustain the Indians, who were giving way, and 
now was the fiercest part of the fight. Old neighbors met 
in deadly feud; former intimacy gave bitterness to present 
hate, and war was literally carried to the knife; for the 
bodies of combatants were afterward found on the field of 
battle, grappled in death, with the hand still grasping the 
knife plunged in a neighbor's heart. The very savages 
seemed inspired with unusual ferocity by the confusion and 
death struggle around them, and the sight of their prime 
warriors and favorite chiefs shot down. In their blind fury 
they attacked the white men indiscriminately, friend or foe, 
so that in this chance-medley fight many of Sir John's greens 
were slain by his own Indian allies. 

A confusion reigns over the accounts of this fight; in 
which every one saw little but what occurred in his imme- 
diate vicinity. The Indians, at length, having lost many 
of their bravest warriors, gave the retreating cry, Oonah! 
Oonah! and fled to the woods. The greens and rangers, 
hearing a firing in the direction of the fort, feared an attack 
upon their camp, and hastened to its defense, carrying off 
with them many prisoners. The Americans did not pursue 

500 WorU^s of U/asJ^l^c^tor) IruiQ^ 

them, but, placing tlieir wounded on litters made of branches 
of trees, returned to Oriskany. Both parties have claimed 
the victory ; but it does not appear that either was entitled 
to it. The dead of both parties lay for days unburied on 
the field of action, and a wounded officer of the enemy (Major 
Watts) remained there two days unrelieved, until found by 
an Indian scout. It would seem as if each party gladly 
abandoned this scene of one of the most savage conflicts of 
the Revolution. The Americans had two hundred killed, 
and a number wounded. Several of these were officers. 
The loss of the enemy is thought to have been equally great 
as to numbers; but then the difference in value between 
regulars and militia! the former often the refuse of man- 
kind, mere hirelings, whereas among the privates of the 
militia, called out from their homes to defend their neighbor- 
hood, were many of the worthiest and most valuable of the 
yeomanry. The premature haste of the Indians in attacking 
had saved the Americans from being completely surrounded. 
The rearguard, not having entered the defile, turned and 
made a rapid retreat, but were pursued by the Indians, and 
suffered greatly in a running fight. We may add that those 
who had been most urgent with General Herkimer for this 
movement were among the first to suffer from it. Colonel 
Cox was shot down at the first fire, so was a son of Col- 
onel Paris; the colonel himself was taken prisoner, and fell 
beneath the tomahawk of the famous Red Jacket. 

As to General Herkimer, he was conveyed to his resi- 
dence on the Mohawk River, and died nine days after the 
battle, not so much from his wound as from bad surgery, 
sinking gradually through loss of blood from an unskillful 
amputation. He died like a philosopher and a Christian, 
smoking his pipe and reading his Bible to the last. His 

Cife of U/asl7iQ($toQ 501 

name has been given to a county in that part of the 

The sortie of Colonel Willett had been spirited and suc- 
cessful. He attacked the encampments of Sir John Johnson 
and the Indians, which were contiguous, and strong detach- 
ments of which were absent on the ambuscade. Sir John 
and his men were driven to the river ; the Indians fled to the 
woods. Willett sacked their camps; loaded wagons with 
camp equipage, clothing, blankets, and stores of all kinds, 
seized the baggage and papers of Sir John and of several 
of his officers, and retreated safely to the fort, just as St. 
Leger was coming up with a powerful re-enforcement. Five 
colors, which he had brought away with him as trophies, 
were displayed under the flag of the fort, while his men gave 
three cheers from the ramparts. 

St. Leger now endeavored to operate on the fears of the 
garrison. His prisoners, it is said, were compelled to write 
a letter, giving dismal accounts of the affair of Oriskany, 
and of the impossibility of getting any succor to the garrison ; 
of the probability that Burgoyne and his army were then 
before Albany, and advising surrender to prevent inevitable 
destruction. It is probable they were persuaded, rather than 
compelled, to write the letter, which took its tone from their 
own depressed feelings and the misrepresentations of those 
around them. St. Leger accompanied the letter with warn- 
ings that, should the garrison persist in resistance, he would 
not be able to restrain the fury of the savages ; who, though 
held in check for the present, threatened, if further pro- 
voked, to revenge the deaths of their warriors and chiefs by 

* Some of the particulars of this action were given to the 
author by a son of Colonel Paris. 

502 U/orl^s of U/asl;>iQ($toi) IruiQ<5 

slaugbtBring the garrison and laying waste the whole valley 
of the Mohawk. 

All this failing to shake the resolution of Gansevoort, 
St. Leger next issued an appeal to the inhabitants of Tryon 
County, signed by their old neighbors, Sir John Johnson, 
Colonel Claus, and Colonel Butler, promising pardon and 
protection to all who should submit to royal authority, and 
urging them to send a deputation of their principal men to 
overcome the mulish obstinacy of the garrison and save the 
whole surrounding country from Indian ravage and mas- 
sacre. The people of the county, however, were as little 
to be moved as the garrison. 

St. Leger now began to lose heart. The fort proved more ca- 
pable of defense than he had anticipated. His artillery was too 
light, and the ramparts, being of sod, were not easily battered. 
He was obliged reluctantly to resort to the slow process of 
sapping and mining, and began to make regular approaches. 

Gansevoort, seeing the siege was likely to be protracted, 
resolved to send to General Schuyler for succor. Colonel 
Willett volunteered to undertake the perilous errand. He 
was accompanied by Lieutenant Stockwell, an excellent 
woodman, who served as a guide. They left the fort on 
the 10th, after dark, by a sallyport, passed by the British 
sentinels and close by the Indian camp without being dis- 
covered, and made their way through bog, and morass, and 
pathless forests, and all kinds of risks and hardships, until 
they reached the German Flats on the Mohawk. Here Wil- 
lett procured a couple of horses, and by dint of hoof arrived 
at the camp of General Schuyler at Stillwater. A change 
had come over the position of that commander four days pre- 
vious to the arrival of Colonel Willett, as we shall relate in 
the ensuing chapter. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 50S 


Schuyler hears of the Affair of Oriskany — Applies for Re-enforce- 
ments — His Appeal to the Patriotism of Stark — Schuyler super- 
seded — His Conduct thereupon — Relief sent to Fort Stanwix — 
Arnold volunteers to conduct it — Change of Encampment — Pa- 
triotic Determination of Schuyler — Detachment of the Enemy 
against Bennington — Germans and their Indian Allies — Baum, 
the Hessian Leader — Stark in the Field — Mustering of the Mi- 
litia — A Belligerent Parson — Battle of Bennington — Breyman 
to the Rescue — Routed — Reception of the News in the Rival 
Camps — "Washington urges New England to follow up the Blow 

Schuyler was in Albany in the early part of August, 
making stirring appeals in every direction for re-enforce- 
ments. Burgoyne was advancing upon him; he had re- 
ceived news of the disastrous affair of Oriskany, and the 
death of General Herkimer, and Tryon County was crying 
to him for assistance. One of his appeals was to the vet- 
eran John Stark, the comrade of Putnam in the French war 
and the battle of Bunker's Hill. He had his farm in the 
Hampshire Grants, and his name was a tower of strength 
among the Green Mountain Boys. But Stark was soured 
with government, and had retired from service, his name 
having been omitted in the list of promotions. Hearing that 
he was on a visit to Lincoln's camp at Manchester, Schuyler 
wrote to that general, "Assure General Stark that I have 
acquainted Congress of his situation, and that I trust and 
entreat he will, in the present alarming crisis, waive his 
right ; the greater the sacrifice he makes to his feelings the 
greater will be the honor due to him for not having suffered 

504 U/ort^s of U/a8l?ir>^t0f> IrulQ^ 

any consideration whatever to come in competition with the 
weal of his country. Entreat him to march immediately to 
our army." 

Schuyler had instant call to practice the very virtue he 
was inculcating. He was about to mount his horse on the 
10th, to return to the camp at Stillwater, when a dispatch 
from Congress was put into his hand containing the resolves 
which recalled him to attend a court of inquiry about the 
affair of Ticonderoga, and requested Washington to appoint 
an officer to succeed him. 

Schuyler felt deeply the indignity of being thus recalled 
at a time when an engagement was apparently at hand, but 
endeavored to console himself with the certainty that a thor- 
ough investigation of his conduct would prove how much he 
was entitled to the thanks of his country. He intimated the 
same in his reply to Congress; in the meantime, he consid- 
ered it his duty to remain at his post until his successor 
should arrive, or some officer in the department be nomi- 
nated to the command. Returning, therefore, to the camp 
at Stillwater, he continued to conduct the affairs of the army 
with unremitting zeal. *' Until the coimtry is in safety," 
said he, "1 will stifle my resentment." 

His first care was to send relief to Gansevoort and his 
beleaguered garrison. Eight hundred men were all that he 
could spare from his army in its present threatened state. 
A spirited and effective officer was wanted to lead them. 
Arnold was in camp, recently sent on as an efficient coad- 
jutor, by Washington; he was in a state of exasperation 
against the government, having just learned that the ques- 
tion of rank had been decided against him in Congress. In- 
deed, he would have retired instantly from the service, had 
not Schuyler prevailed on him to remain until the impending 

Cife of U/a8l^iQ($tor; 505 

danger was over. It was hardly to 6e expected that in his 
irritated mood he would accept the command of the detach- 
ment, if offered to him. Arnold, however, was a combusti- 
ble character. The opportunity of an exploit flashed on his 
adventurous spirit. He stepped promptly forward and vol- 
unteered to lead the enterprise. **!N"o pubHc or private in- 
jury or insult," said he, "shall prevail on me to forsake the 
cause of my injured and oppressed country, until 1 see peace 
and liberty restored to her, or nobly die in the attempt." * 

After the departure of this detachment, it was unani- 
mously determined, in a council of war of Schuyler and his 
general officers, that the post at Stillwater was altogether 
untenable with their actual force; part of the army, there- 
fore, retired to the islands at the fords on the mouth of the 
Mohawk River, where it empties into the Hudson, and a 
brigade was posted above the Falls of the Mohawk, called 
the Cohoes, to prevent the enemy from crossing there. It 
was considered a strong position, where they could not be 
attacked without great disadvantage to the assailant. 

The feelings of Schuyler were more and more excited as 
the game of war appeared drawing to a crisis. *'I am re- 
solved," writes he to his friend Duane, **to make another 
sacrifice to my country, and risk the censure of Congress by 
remaining in this quarter after I am relieved, and bringing 
up the militia to the support of this weak army." 

As yet he did not know who was to be his successor 
in the command. A letter from Duane informed him that 
General Gates was the man. 

Still the noble part of Schuyler's nature was in the 
ascendant. ''Your fears may be up," writes he in reply, 

* Letter to Gates. Gates's Papers, 
Vol. XIII.—* * * 22 

506 U/orl^s of U/aslpip^toi) Iruir)($ 

**lest the ill-treatment I have experienced at his hands should 
so far get the better of my judgment as to embarrass him. 
Do not, my dear friend, be uneasy on that account. I am 
incapable of sacrificing my country to a resentment, how- 
ever just; and I trust I shall give an example of what a 
good citizen ought to do when he is in my situation." 

We will now take a view of occurrences on the right and 
left of Burgoyne, and show the effect of Schuyler's meas- 
ures, poorly seconded as they were, in crippling and straiten- 
ing the invading army. And first we will treat of the expe- 
dition against Bennington. This was a central place, whither 
the live stock was driven from various parts of the Hamp- 
shire Grants, and whence the American army derived its 
supplies. It was a great deposit, also, of grain of various 
kinds, and of wheel carriages; the usual guard was militia, 
varying from day to day. Bennington was to be surprised. 
The country was to be scoured from Rockingham to Otter 
Creek in quest of provisions for the army, horses and oxen 
for draft, and horses for the cavalry. All public magazines 
were to be sacked. All cattle belonging to royalists, and 
which could be spared by their owners, were to be paid for. 
All rebel flocks and herds were to be driven away. 

Generals Phillips and Riedesel demurred strongly to the 
expedition, but their counsels were outweighed by those of 
Colonel Skene, the royalist. He knew, he said, all the coun- 
try thereabout. The inhabitants were as five to one in favor 
of the royal cause, and would be prompt to turn out on the 
first appearance of a protecting army. He was to accom- 
pany the expedition, and much was expected from his per- 
sonal influence and authority. 

Lieutenant-colonel Baum was to command the detach- 
ment. He had under him, according to Burgoyne, two 

Cife of U/a8i?ir><$too 607 

hundred dismounted dragoons of the regiment of Riedesel, 
Captain Eraser's marksmen, which were the only British, 
all the Canadian volunteers, a party of the provincials who 
perfectly knew the country, one hundred Indians, and two 
light pieces of cannon. The whole detachment amounted 
to about five hundred men. The dragoons, it was expected, 
would supply themselves with horses in the course of the 
foray ; and a skeleton corps of royalists would be filled up 
by recruits. 

The Germans had no great liking for the Indians as fel- 
low campaigners; especially those who had come from Up- 
per Canada under St. Luc. ** These savages are heathens, 
huge, warlike, and enterprising, but wicked as Satan," 
writes a Hessian officer. *'Some say they are cannibals, 
but I do not believe it ; though in their fury they will tear 
the flesh off their enemies with their teeth. They have a 
martial air, and their wild ornaments become them." * St. 
Luc, who commanded them, had been a terror to the En- 
glish colonists in the French war, and it was intimated that 
he possessed great treasures of '* old English scalps." He 
and his warriors, however, had disappeared from camp since 
the affair of Miss McCrea. The present were Indians from 
Lower Canada. 

The choice of German troops for this foray was much 
sneered at by the British officers. "A corps could not have 
been found in the whole army," said they, '* so unfit for a 
service requiring rapidity of motion as Riedesel's dragoons. 
The very hat and sword of one of them weighed nearly as 
much as the whole equipment of a British soldier. The 
worst British regiment in the service would march two miles 
to their one." 

* Schlozer's Brief wechsel, Th. iii., Heft xvii. 

608 U/orl^s of U/asl^ip^toi) Iruir>^ 

To be nearer at hand in case assistance should be re- 
quired, Burgoyne encamped on the east side of the Hudson, 
nearly opposite Saratoga, throwing over a bridge of boats by 
which General Fraser, with the advanced guard, crossed to 
that place. Colonel Baum set out from camp at break of 
day, on the 13th of August. All that had been predicted 
of his movements was verified. The badness of the road, 
the excessive heat of the weather, and the want of carriages 
and horses, were alleged in excuse; but slow and unapt men 
ever meet with impediments. Some cattle, carts and wagons 
were captured at Cambridge ; a few horses also were brought 
in ; but the Indians killed or drove off all that fell into their 
hands, unless they were paid in cash for their prizes. '*The 
country people of these parts," writes the Hessian narrator, 
'*came in crowds to Governor Skene, as he was called, and 
took the oath of allegiance; but even these faithless people," 
adds he, "were subsequently our bitterest assailants." 

Baum was too slow a man to take a place by surprise. 
The people of Bennington heard of his approach and were on 
the alert. The veteran Stark was there with eight or nine 
hundred troops. During the late alarms the militia of the 
State had been formed into two brigades, one to be com- 
manded by General WiUiam "Whipple ; Stark had with diffi- 
culty been prevailed upon to accept the command of the 
other, upon the express condition that he should not be obliged 
to join the main army, but should be left to his own discre- 
tion, to make war in his own partisan style, hovering about 
the enemy in their march through the country, and account- 
able to none but the authorities of ITew Hampshire. 

General Lincoln had informed Stark of the orders of 
General Schuyler, that all the mihtia should repair to Still- 
water, but the veteran refused to comply. He had taken up 

Cife of U/asl^ip^toi) 509 

arms, he said, in a moment of exigency, to defend the neigh- 
borhood which would be exposed to the ravages of the enemy, 
should he leave it, and he held himself accountable solely to 
the authorities of New Hampshire. This act of insubordina- 
tion might have involved the doughty but somewhat testy 
old general in subsequent diflSculty had not his sword carved 
out an ample excuse for him. 

Having heard that Indians had appeared at Cambridge, 
twelve miles to the north of Bennington, on the 13th, he sent 
out two hundred men under Colonel Gregg in quest of them. 
In the course of the night he learned that they were mere 
scouts in advance of a force marching upon Bennington. 
He immediately rallied his brigade, called out the militia of 
the neighborhood, and sent off for Colonel Seth "Warner (the 
quondam associate of Ethan Allen) and his regiment of mi- 
litia, who were with General Lincoln at Manchester. 

Lincoln instantly detached them, and Warner and his 
men marched all night through drenching rain, arriving at 
Stark's camp in the morning, dripping wet. 

Stark left them at Bennington to dry and rest themselves, 
and then to follow on ; in the meantime, he pushed forward 
with his men to support the party sent out the preceding 
day, under Gregg, in quest of the Indians. He met them 
about five miles off, in full retreat, Baum and his force a 
mile in their rear. 

Stark halted and prepared for action. Baum also halted, 
posted himself on a high ground at a bend of the little river 
Walloomscoick, and began to intrench himself. Stark fell 
back a mile, to wait for re- enforcements and draw down 
Baum from his strong position. A skirmish took place be- 
tween the advance guards; thirty of Baum's men were killed 
and two Indian chiefs. 

510 U/orl^s of U/asl?ip^toi> Iruip^ 

An incessant rain on the 15th prevented an attack on 
Baum's camp, but there was continual skirmishing. The 
colonel strengthened his intrenchments, and finding he had 
a larger force to contend with than he had anticipated, sent 
off in all haste to Burgoyne for re enforcements. Colonel 
Breyman marched off immediately, with five hundred Hes- 
sian grenadiers and infantry and two six-pounders, leaving 
behind him his tents, baggage, and standards. He, also, 
found the roads so deep, and the horses so bad, that he was 
nearly two days getting four-and-twenty miles. The tactics 
of the Hessians were against them. '*So foolishly attached 
were they to forms of discipline," writes a British historian, 
*Hhat in marching through thickets they stopped ten times 
an hour to dress their ranks." It was here in fact that they 
most dreaded the American rifle. ''In the open field," said 
they, ''the rebels are not much; but they are redoubtable in 
the woods." * 

In the meantime the more alert and active Americans 
had been mustering from all quarters to Stark's assistance, 
with such weapons as they had at hand. During the night 
of the 15th, Colonel Symonds arrived with a body of Berk- 
shire militia. Among them was a belligerent parson, full of 
fight, Allen by name, possibly of the bellicose family of the 
hero of Ticonderoga. "General," cried he, "the people of 
Berkshire have been often called out to no purpose ; if you 
don't give them a chance to fight now they will never turn 
out again." "You would not turn out now, while it is dark 
and raining, would you?" demanded Stark. "Not just 
now," was the reply. "Well, if the Lord should once more 
give us sunshine, and I don't give you fighting enough," re- 
joined the veteran, "I'll never ask you to turn out again." 

* Schlozer's Briefwechsel. 

Cife of U/a8l7ir>($toi7 511 

On the following morning the sun shone bright, and Stark 
prepared to attack Baum in his intrenchments ; though he 
had no artillery, and his men, for the most part, had only 
their ordinary brown firelocks without bayonets. Two hun- 
dred of his men, under Colonel Nichols, were detached to the 
rear of the enemy's left; three hundred, under Colonel Her- 
rick, to the rear of his right ; they were to join their forces and 
attack him in the rear, while Colonels Hubbard and Stickney, 
with two hundred men, diverted his attention in front. 

Colonel Skene and the royalists, when they saw the 
Americans issuing out of the woods on different sides, per- 
suaded themselves, and endeavored to persuade Baum, that 
these were the royal people of the country flocking to his 
standard. The Indians were the first to discover the truth. 
*'The woods are full of Yankees," cried they, and retreated 
in single file between the troops of Nichols and Herrick, yell- 
ing like demons and jingling cow bells. Several of them, how- 
ever, were killed or wounded as they thus ran the gantlet. 

At the first sound of firearms, Stark, who had remained 
with the main body in camp, mounted his horse and gave 
the word, forward! He had promised his men the plunder 
of the British camp. The homely speech made by him when 
in sight of the enemy has often been cited. *'Now, my men ! 
There are the redcoats ! Before night they must be ours, or 
Molly Stark will be a vddow!" Baum soon found himself 
assailed on every side, but he defended his works bravely. 
His two pieces of artillery, advantageously planted, were 
very effective, and his troops, if slow in march, were steady 
in action. For two hours the discharge of firearms was said 
to have been like the constant rattling of the drum. Stark 
in his dipsatches compared it to a ** continued clap of thun- 
der." It was the hottest fight he had ever seen. He in- 

513 U/orl^s of U/aslplQ^tOQ IruiQ<5 

spired his men with his own impetuosity. They drove the 
royalist troops upon the Hessians, and, pressing after them, 
stormed the works with irresistible fury. A Hessian eye- 
witness declares that this time the rebels fought with des- 
peration, pressing within eight paces of the loaded cannon • 
to take surer aim at the artillerists. The latter were slain ; 
the cannon captured. The royalists and Canadians took to 
flight and escaped to the woods. The Germans still kept 
their ground, and fought bravely until there was not a car- 
tridge left. Baum and his dragoons then took to their broad- 
swords and the infantry to their bayonets, and endeavored 
to cut their way to a road in the woods, but in vain ; many 
were killed, more wounded, Baum among the number, and 
all who survived were taken prisoners.* 

The victors now dispersed, some to collect booty, some to 
attend to the wounded, some to guard the prisoners, and 
some to seek refreshment, being exhausted by hunger and 
fatigue. At this critical juncture, Breyman's tardy re-en- 
forcement came, making its way heavily and slowly to the 
scene of action, joined by many of the enemy who had fled. 
Attempts were made to rally the militia; but they were in 
complete confusion. Nothing would have saved them from 
defeat, had not Colonel Seth Warner's corps fortunately ar- 
rived from Bennington, fresh from repose, and advanced to 
meet the enemy, while the others regained their ranks. It 
was four o'clock in the afternoon when this second action 
commenced. It was fought from wood to wood and hill to h. 
hill, for several miles, until sunset. The last stand of the 
enemy was at Van Schaick's mill, where, having expended 
all their ammunition, of which each man had forty rounds, 

* Briefe aus America. Schldzer's Brief wechsel, Th. iii., 
Heft xiii. 

Cife of U/asl7ir>($tor> 513 

they gave way, and retreated, under favor of the night, leav- 
ing two field-pieces and all their baggage in the hands of the 
Americans. StarJj ceased to pursue them, lest in the dark- 
ness his men should fire upon each other. ''Another hour 
of daylight," said he in his report, "and I should have capt- 
ured the whole body." The veteran had had a horse shot 
under him, but escaped without wound or bruise. 

Four brass field-pieces, nine hundred dragoon swords, a 
thousand stand of arms, and four ammunition wagons, were 
the spoils of this victory. Thirty-two officers, five hundred 
and sixty-four privates, including Canadians and loyalists, 
were taken prisoners. The number of slain was very consid- 
erable, but could not be ascertained ; many having fallen in 
the woods. The brave but unfortunate Baum did not long 
survive. The Americans had one hundred killed and 

Burgoyne was awakened in his camp toward daylight 
of the 17th, by tidings that Colonel Baum had surrendered. 
Kext came word that Colonel Breyman was engaged in se- 
vere and doubtful conflict. The whole army was roused, 
and were preparing to hasten to his assistance, when one re- 
port after another gave assurance that he was on his way 
back in safety. The main body, therefore, remained in 
camp at the Batten kiln ; but Burgoyne forded that stream 
with the 47th regiment and pushed forward until four o'clock, 
when he met Breyman and his troops, weary and haggard 
with hard fighting and hard marching, in hot weather. In 
the evening all returned to their old encampments.* 

General Schuyler was encamped on Van Schaick's Isl- 
and, at the mouth of the Mohawk River, when a letter from 

* Schlozer's Brief wechsel, Th. iii., Heft xiii. 

514 U/or^8 of Was\}iT)(^tor) Iruir)<$ 

General Lincoln, dated Bennington, Aug. 18, informed him 
of ''the capital blow given the enemy by General Stark." 
**I trust," replies he, Aug. 19th, **that the severity with 
which they have been handled will retard General Bur- 
goyne's progress. Part of his force was yesterday after- 
noon about three miles and a half above Stillwater. If the 
enemy have entirely left that part of the countr}^ you are in, 
I think it would be advisable for you to move toward Hud- 
son River tending toward Stillwater." 

** Governor Clinton," writes he to Stark on the same day, 
**is coming up with a body of militia, and I trust that after 
what the enemy have experienced from you, their progress 
will be retarded, and then we shall see them driven out of 
this part of the country." 

He now hoped to hear that Arnold had raised the siege 
of Fort Stanwix. **If that takes place," said he, **it will be 
possible to engage two or three hundred Indians to join this 
army, and Congress may rest assured that my best endeavors 
shall not be wanting to accomplish it." 

Tidings of the affair of Bennington reached "Washington, 
just before he moved his camp from the neighborhood of 
Philadelphia to Wilmington, and it relieved his mind from 
a world of anxious perplexity. In a letter to Putnam he 
writes, **As there is not now the least danger of General 
Howe's going to New England, I hope the whole force of 
that country will turn out, and, by following the great stroke 
struck by General Stark near Bennington, entirely crush 
General Burgoyne, who, by his letter to Colonel Baum, 
seems to be in want of almost everything." 

We will now give the fate of Burgoyne 's detachment, 
imder St. Leger, sent to capture Fort Stanwix and ravage 
the valley of the Mohawk. 

Cife of U/a8t7iQ<$toi> 515 


Stratagem of Arnold to relieve Fort Stanwix — Yan Yost Cuyler — 
The Siege pressed — Indians intractable — Success of Arnold's 
Stratagem— Harassed Retreat of St. Leger — Moral Effect of 
the two Blows given to the Enemy — Brightening Prospects in 
the American Camp — Arrival of Gates — Magnanimous Conduct 
of Schuyler — Poorly requited by Gates — Correspondence be- 
tween Gates and Burgoyne concerning the Murder of Miss 

Arnold's march to the relief of Fort Stanwix was slower 
than suited his ardent and impatient spirit. He was de- 
tained in the valley of the Mohawk by bad roads, by the 
necessity of waiting for baggage and ammunition wagons, 
and for militia recruits who turned out reluctantly. He sent 
missives to Colonel Gansevoort assuring him that he would 
relieve him in the course of a few days. "Be under no kind 
of apprehension," writes he. ''I know the strength of the 
enemy, and how to deal with them.''^ 

In fact, conscious of the smallness of his force, he had 
resorted to stratagem, sending emissaries ahead to spread 
exaggerated reports of the number of his troops, so as to 
work on the fears of the enemy's Indian allies and induce 
them to desert. The most important of these emissaries was 
one Yan Yost Cuyler, an eccentric, half-witted fellow, known 
throughout the country as a rank tory. He had been con- 
victed as a spy, and only spared from the halter on the con- 
dition that he would go into St. Leger' s camp, and spread 
alarming reports among the Indians, by whom he was well 

516 U/orKs of \JJ3s\)\r)(^tOT) Irulr)^ 

known. To insure a faithful discharge of his mission, Ar- 
nold detained his brother as a hostage. 

On his way up the Mohawk valley, Arnold was joined 
by a New York regiment, under Colonel James Livingston, 
sent by Gates to re-enforce him. On arriving at the Ger- 
man Flats he received an express from Colonel Gansevoort, 
informing him that he was still besieged, but in high spirits 
and under no apprehensions. In a letter to Gates, written 
from the German Flats (August 21st), Arnold says, *^I leave 
this place this morning with twelve hundred Continental 
troops and a handful of militia for Fort Schuyler, still be- 
sieged by a number equal to ours. You will hear of my 
being victorious — or no more. As soon as the safety of this 
part of the country will permit, I will fly to your assist- 
ance." * 

All this while St. Leger was advancing his parallels and 
pressing the siege ; while provisions and ammunition were 
rapidly decreasing within the fort. St. Leger's Indian al- 
lies, however, were growing sullen and intractable. This 
slow kind of warfare, this war with the spade, they were 
unaccustomed to, and they by no means relished it. Be- 
sides, they had been led to expect easy times, little fighting, 
many scalps, and much plunder; whereas they had fought 
hard, lost many of their best chiefs, been checked in their 
cruelty, and gained no booty. 

At this juncture, scouts brought word that a force one 
thousand strong was marching to the relief of the fort. 
Eager to put his savages in action, St. Leger, in a council 
of war, offered to their chiefs to place himself at their head, 
with three hundred of his best troops, and meet the enemy 

'^ Gates's Papers. 

Cife of U/a8l?ii>($top 517 

as they advanced. It was agreed, and they sallied forth to- 
gether to choose a fighting ground. By this time rumors 
stole into the camp doubling the number of the approaching 
enemy. Burgoyne's whole army were said to have been de- 
feated. Lastly came Yan Yost Cuyler, with his coat full of 
bullet holes, giving out that he had escaped from the hands 
of the Americans, and had been fired upon by them. His 
story was believed, for his wounded coat corroborated it, 
and he was known to be a royalist. Mingling among his 
old acquaintances, the Indians, he assured them that the 
Americans were close at hand, "and numerous as the leaves 
on the trees.'' 

Arnold's stratagem succeeded. The Indians, fickle as 
the winds, began to desert. Sir John Johnson and Colonels 
Claus and Butler endeavored in vain to reassure and retain 
them. In a little while two hundred had decamped, and the 
rest threatened to do so likewise, unless St. Leger retreated* 

The unfortunate colonel found too late what little reliance 
was to be placed upon Indian allies. He determined, on the 
22d, to send off his sick, his wounded, and his artillery by 
"Wood Creek that very night, and to protect them by the line 
of march. The Indians, however, goaded on by Arnold's 
emissaries, insisted on instant retreat. St. Leger still re- 
fused to depart before nightfall. The savages now became 
ungovernable. They seized upon liquor of the officers about 
to be embarked, and getting intoxicated, behaved like very 

In a word, St. Leger was obliged to decamp about noon, 
in such hurry and confusion that he left his tents standing, 
and his artillery, with most of his baggage, ammunition, 
and stores, fell into the hands of the Americans. 

A detachment from the garrison pursued and harassed 

618 U/orl^s of U/asl?ir>($tor) Iruir)^ 

him for a time ; but his greatest annoyance was from his In- 
dian alHes, who plundered the boats which conveyed such 
baggage as had been brought off; murdered all stragglers 
who lagged in the rear, and amused themselves by giving 
false alarms to keep up the panic of the soldiery ; who would 
throw away muskets, knapsacks, and everything that im- 
peded their flight. 

It was not until he reached Onondaga Falls that St. 
Leger discovered, by a letter from Burgoyne, and floating 
reports brought by the bearer, that he had been the dupe 
of a ruse de guerre, and that at the time the advancing foe 
were reported to be close upon his haunches they were not 
within forty miles of him. • 

Such was the second blow to Burgoyne^s invading army ; 
but before the news of it reached that doomed commander 
he had already been half paralyzed by the disaster at Ben- 

The moral effect of these two blows was such as Wash- 
ington had predicted. Fortune, so long adverse, seemed at 
length to have taken a favorable turn. People were roused 
from their despondency. There was a sudden exultation 
throughout the country. The savages had disappeared in 
their native forests. The German veterans, so much vaunted 
and dreaded, had been vanquished by militia, and British ar- 
tillery captured by men, some of whom had never seen a 

Means were now augmenting in Schuyler's hands. 
Colonels Livingston and Pierre van Courtlandt, forwarded 
by Putnam, were arrived. Governor Clinton was daily ex- 
pected with New York militia from the Highlands. The 
arrival of Arnold was anticipated with troops and artillery, 
and Lincoln with the New England militia. At this propi- 

Cife of U/asJ}ii)(§tor) 519 

tious moment, when everything was ready for the sickle to 
be put into the harvest, General Gates arrived in the camp. 

Schuyler received him with the noble courtesy to which 
he pledged himself. After acquainting him with all the 
affairs of the department, the measures he had taken, and 
those he had projected, he informed him of his having signi- 
fied to Congress his intention to remain in that quarter for 
the present, and render every service in his power; and he 
entreated Gates to call upon him for counsel and assistance 
whenever he thought proper. 

Gates was in high spirits. His letters to Washington 
show how completely he was aware that an easy path of 
victory had been opened for him. *'Upon my leaving Phil- 
adelphia," writes he, *Hhe prospect this way appeared most 
gloomy, but the severe checks the enemy have met with at 
Bennington and Try on County have given a more pleasing 
view of public affairs. Particular accounts of the signal 
victory gained by General Stark, and of the severe blow 
General Herkimer gave Sir John Johnson and the scalpers 
under his command, have been transmitted to your Excel- 
lency by General Schuyler. I anxiously expect the arrival 
of an express from General Arnold, with an account of the 
total defeat of the enemy in that quarter. 

''I cannot sufficiently thank your Excellency for sending 
Colonel Morgan's corps to this army. They will be of the 
greatest service to it; for, until the late success this way, 
I am told the army were quite pan icst ruck by the Indians, 
and their tory and Canadian assassins in Indian dress." 

Governor Clinton was immediately expected in camp, 
and he intended to consult with him and General Lincoln 
upon the best plan to distress, and, he hoped, finally to 
defeat the enemy. ""We shall, no doubt," writes he, *'unani- 

620 U/orl^s of U/asf)\r)<^tOT) IruiQ^ 

mously agree in sentiment with your Excellency to keep 
Generals Lincoln and Stark upon the flank and rear of the 
enemy, while the main body opposes them in front.'' 

Not a word does he say of consulting Schuyler, who, 
more than any one else, was acquainted with the department 
and its concerns, who was in constant correspondence with 
Washington, and had co-operated with him in effecting the 
measures which had produced the present promising situation 
of affairs. So far was he from responding to Schuyler's 
magnanimity, and profiting by his nobly offered counsel and 
assistance, that he did not even ask him to be present at his 
first council of war, although he invited up General Ten 
Broeck, of the militia from Albany, to attend it. 

His conduct in this respect provoked a caustic remark 
from the celebrated Gouverneur Morris. **The commander- 
in-chief of the Northern department," said he, ''may, if he 
please, neglect to ask or disdain to receive advice, but those 
who know him will, I am sure, be convinced that he wants 

Gates opened hostilities against Burgoyne with the pen. 
He had received a letter from that commander, complaining 
of the harsh treatment experienced by the royalists captured 
at Bennington. "Duty and principle," writes Burgoyne, 
*'made me a public enemy to the Americans who have taken 
up arms; but I seek to be a generous one; nor have I the 
shadow of resentment against any individual who does not 
induce it by acts derogatory to those maxims upon which all 
men of honor think alike." 

There was nothing in this that was not borne out by the 
conduct and character of Burgoyne; but Gates seized upon 
the occasion to assail that commander in no measured terms 
in regard to his Indian allies. 

Cife of U/a8l7ii7($tor> 521 

**That the savages," said he, '* should in their warfare 
mangle the unhappy prisoners who fall into their hands, is 
neither new nor extraordinary ; but that the famous General 
Burgoyne, in whom the fine gentleman is united with the 
scholar, should hire the savages of America to scalp Euro- 
peans; nay more, that he should pay a price for each scalp 
so barbarously taken, is more than will be believed in Europe, 
until authenticated facts shall in every gazette confirm the 
horrid tale." 

After this prelude, he went on to state the murder of 
Miss McCrea, alleging that her murderer was employed by 
Burgoyne. **Two parents," added he, *'with their six chil- 
dren were treated with the same inhumanity, while quietly 
resting in their once happy and peaceful dwelling. Upward 
of one hundred men, women and children have perished by 
the hands of the ruffians to whom it is asserted you have 
paid the price of blood." 

Gates showed his letter to General Lincoln and Colonel 
Wilkinson, who demurred to its personality ; but he evidently 
conceived it an achievement of the pen, and spurned their 
criticism.* Burgoyne, in a manly reply, declared that he 
would have disdained to justify himself from such rhapsodies 
of fiction and calumny, but that his silence might be con- 
strued into an admission of their truth, and lead to acts of 

* After General Gates had written his letter to Burgoyne, 
he called General Lincoln and myself into his apartment, 
read it to us, and requested our opinion of it, which we 
declined giving; but being pressed by him, with diffidence 
we concurred in judgment, that he had been too personal; 
to which the old gentleman replied with his characteristic 
bluntness, **By G — ! I don't believe either of you can mend 
it": and thus the consultation terminated. — Wilkinson's 
Memoirs, vol. i., p. 231. 

622 U/orl^8 of U/a8t?ir>^toi) Iruir>4$ 

retaliation. He pronounced all the intelligence cited respect- 
ing the cruelties of the Indians to be false, with the exception 
of the case of Miss McCrea. This he put in its true light, 
adding that it had been as sincerely lamented and abhorred 
by him as it could be by the tenderest of her friends. **I 
would not/' declared he, '*be conscious of the acts you pre- 
sume to impute to me, for the whole continent of America; 
though the wealth of worlds was in its bowels, and a paradise 
upon its surface." 

We have already shown what was the real conduct of 
Burgoyne in this deplorable afiPair, and General Gates could 
and should have ascertained it, before *'he presumed to im- 
pute" to a gallant antagonist and a humane and cultivated 
gentleman such base and barbarous policy. It was the 
government under which Burgoyne served that was charge- 
able with the murderous acts of the savages. He is rather 
to be pitied for being obliged to employ such hell-hounds, 
whom he endeavored in vain to hold in check. Great Britain 
reaped the reward of her policy in the odium which it cast 
upon her cause, and the determined and successful opposition 
which it provoked in the American bosom. 

We will now shift the scene to Washington's camp at 
Wilmington, where we left him watching the operations of 
the British fleet, and preparing to oppose the army under 
Sir William Howe in its designs upon Philadelphia. 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ<Jtoi> 523 


Landing of Howe's Army on Elk River — Measures to check it — Ex- 
posed Situation of Washington in Reconnoitering — Alarm of 
the Country — Proclamation of Howe — Arrival of Sullivan — 
Foreign Officers in Camp — Deborre — Conway — Fleury — Count 
Pulaski — First Appearance in the Army of * 'Light-Horse Harry" 
of Virginia — ^Washington's Appeal to the Army — Movements of 
the Rival Forces — Battle of the Brandywine — Retreat of the 
Americans — Halt in Chester — Scenes in Philadelphia during 
the Battle — Congress orders out Militia — Clothes Washington 
with Extraordinary Powers — Removes to Lancaster — Rewards 
to Foreign Officers 

On the 25tli of August, the British army under General 
Howe began to land from the fleet in Elk River, at the bot- 
tom of Chesapeake Bay. The place where they landed was 
about six miles below the Head of Elk (now Elkton), a small 
town, the capital of Cecil County. This was seventy mile, 
from Philadelphia; ten miles further from that city than 
they had been when encamped at Brunswick. The inter- 
vening country, too, was less open than the Jerseys, and cut 
up by deep streams. Sir William had chosen this circuitous 
route in the expectation of finding friends among the people 
of Cecil County, and of the lower counties of Pennsylvania, 
many of whom were Quakers and non-combatants, and 
many persons disaffected to the patriot cause. 

Early in the evening, Washington received intelligence 
that the enemy were landing. There was a quantity of 
public and private stores at the Head of Elk, which he feared 
would fall into their hands if they moved quickly. Every 

524 U/orl^s of U/asl^io^tor} IruiQ^ 

attempt was to be made to check them. The divisions of 
Generals Greene and Stephen were within a few miles 
of AYilmington ; orders were sent for them to march thither 
immediately. The two other divisions, which had halted 
at Chester to refresh, were to hurry forward. Major-general 
Armstrong, the same who had surprised the Indian village 
of Kittanning in the French war, and who now commanded 
the Pennsylvania militia, was urged to send down, in the 
cool of night, all the men he could muster, properly armed. 
**The first attempt of the enemy," writes Washington, "will 
be with light parties to seize horses, carriages, and cattle, 
and we must endeavor to check them at the outset." 

General Rodney, therefore, who commanded the Dela- 
ware militia, was ordered to throw out scouts and patrols 
toward the enemy to watch their motions, and to move near 
them with his troops as soon as he should be re -enforced by 
the Maryland militia. 

Light troops were sent out early in the morning to hover 
about and harass the invaders. Washington himself, accom- 
panied by General Greene and the Marquis de Lafayette and 
their aides, rode forth to reconnoiter the country in the neigh- 
borhood of the enemy, and determine how to dispose of his . 
forces when they should be collected. The only eminences 
near Elk were Iron Hill and Gray's Hill; the latter within 
two miles of the enemy. It was difficult, however, to get 
a good view of their encampment and judge of the number 
that had landed. Hours were passed in riding from place 
to place reconnoitering and taking a military survey of the 
surrounding country. At length a severe storm drove the 
party to take shelter in a farmhouse. Night came on dark 
and stormy. Washington showed no disposition to depart. 
His companions became alarmed for his safety ; there was 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 525 

risk of his being surprised, being so near the enemy's camp. 
He was not to be moved either by advice or entreaties, but 
remained all night under the farmer's roof. When he left 
the house at daybreak, however, says Lafayette, he acknowl- 
edged his imprudence, and that the most insignificant traitor 
might have caused his ruin. 

Indeed, he ran a similar risk to that which, in the previous 
year, had produced General Lee's catastrophe. 

The country was in a great state of alarm. The inhabi- 
tants were hurrying off their most valuable effects, so that 
it was difficult to procure cattle and vehicles to remove the 
public stores. The want of horses and the annoyances given 
by the American light troops, however, kept Howe from 
advancing promptly, and gave time for the greater part of 
the stores to be saved. 

To allay the public alarm, Howe issued a proclamation 
on the 27th, promising the strictest regularity and order on 
the part of his army ; with security of person and property 
to all who remained quietly at home, and pardon to those 
under arms who should promptly return to their obedience. 
The proclamation had a quieting effect, especially among 
the loyalists, who abounded in these parts. 

The divisions of Generals Greene and Stephen were now 
stationed several miles in advance of Wilmington, behind 
White Clay Creek, about ten miles from the Head of Elk. 
General Smallwood and Colonel Gist had been directed by 
Congress to take command of the militia of Maryland, who 
were gathering on the western shore, and Washington sent 
them orders to co-operate with General Rodney and get in 
the rear of the enemy. 

Washington now felt the want of Morgan and his rifle= 
men, whom he had sent to assist the Northern army; to 

526 U/orKs of U/a8l7*Fr)($toi) \r\j\T)<^ 

supply their place, he formed a corps of light troops by draft- 
ing a hundred men from each brigade. The command was 
given to Major-general Maxwell, who was to hover about 
the enemy and give them continual annoyance. 

The army about this time was increased by the arrival 
of General Sullivan and his division of three thousand men. 
He had recently, while encamped at Hanover in Jersey, 
made a gallant attempt to surprise and capture a corps of 
one thousand provincials stationed on Staten Island, at a 
distance from the fortified camp, and opposite the Jersey 
shore. The attempt was partially successful; a number of 
the provincials were captured ; but the regulars came to the 
rescue. Sullivan had not brought sufficient boats to secure 
a retreat. His rearguard was captured while waiting for 
the return of the boats, yet not without a sharp resistance. 
There was loss on both sides, but the Americans suffered 
most. Congress had directed Washington to appoint a court 
of inquiry to investigate the matter; in the meantime Sul- 
livan, whose gallantry remained undoubted, continued in 

There were now in camp several of those officers and 
gentlemen from various parts of Europe who had recently 
pressed into the service, and the suitable employment of 
whom had been a source of much perplexity to Washington. 
General Deborre, the French veteran of thirty years' service, 
commanded a brigade in Sullivan's division. Brigadier- 
general Conway, the Gallicized Hibernian, was in the divis- 
ion of Lord Stirling. Besides these, there was Louis Fleury, 
a French gentleman of noble descent, who had been educated 
as an engineer, and had come out at the opening of the 
Revolution to offer his services. Washington had obtained 
for him a captain's commission. Another officer of distin- 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ($toi7 527 

guished merit was the Count Pulaski, a Pole, recommended 
by Dr. Franklin as an officer famous throughout Europe for 
his bravery and conduct in the defense of the liberties of his 
country against Russia, Austria, and Prussia. In fact, he 
had been commander-in-chief of the forces of the insurgents. 
He served at present as a volunteer in the light-horse, and 
as that department was still without a head, and the cavalry 
was a main object of attention among the military of Poland, 
Washington suggested to Congress the expediency of giving 
him the command of it. **This gentleman, we are told," 
writes Washington, ''has been, like us, engaged in defending 
the liberty and independence of his country, and has sacri- 
ficed his fortunes to his zeal for those objects. He derives 
from hence a title to our respect that ought to operate in his 
favor as far as the good of the service will permit." 

At this time Henry Lee of Virginia, of military renown, 
makes his first appearance. He was in the twenty-second 
year of his age, and in the preceding year had commanded 
a company of Virginia volunteers. He had recently signal- 
ized himself in scouting parties, harassing the enemy's 
pickets. Washington, in a letter to the President of Con- 
gress (August 30th), writes: '*This minute twenty-four 
British prisoners arrived, taken yesterday by Captain Lee 
of the light-horse." His adventurous exploits soon won 
him notoriety, and the popular appellation of ''Light-horse 
Harry. ' ' He was favorably noticed by Washington through- 
out the war. Perhaps there was something besides his bold, 
dashing spirit which won him this favor. There may have 
been early recollections connected with it. Lee was the son 
of the lady who first touched Washington's heart in his 
school-boy days, the one about whom he wrote rhymes at 
Mount Vernon and Green way Court — his * 'lowland beauty." 

528 U/orl^s of U/a8}?ip^toi> Irv;ip<$ 

Several days were now passed by the commander-in-chief 
almost continually in the saddle, reconnoitering the roads 
and passes, and making himself acquainted with the sur 
rounding country; which was very much intersected by 
rivers and small streams, running chiefly from northwest 
to southeast. He had now made up his mind to risk a battle 
in the open field. It is true his troops were inferior to those 
of the enemy in number, equipments, and discipline. Hith- 
erto, according to Lafayette, *'they had fought combats, but 
not battles." Still those combats had given them experience; 
and though many of them were militia, or raw recruits, yet 
the divisions of the army had acquired a facility at moving 
in large masses, and were considerably improved in military 
tactics. At any rate, it would never do to let Philadelphia, 
at that time the capital of the States, fall without a blow. 
There was a carping spirit abroad ; a disposition to cavil and 
find fault, which was prevalent in Philadelphia and creeping 
into Congress; something of the nature of what had been 
indulged respecting General Schuyler and the army of the 
North. Public impatience called for a battle ; it was expected 
even by Europe ; his own valiant spirit required it ; though 
hitherto he had been held in check by superior considera- 
tions of expediency, and by the controlling interference 
of Congress. Congress itself now spurred him on, and he 
gave way to the native ardor of his character. 

The British army having effected a landing, in which, 
by the way, it had experienced but little molestation, was 
formed into two divisions. One, under Sir William Howe, 
was stationed at Elkton, with its advanced guard at Gray's 
Hill, about two miles off. The other division, under General 
Knyphausen, was on the opposite side of the ferry, at Cecil 
Court House. On the third of September the enemy ad- 

Cife of U/a8l?ir7<$tOQ 520 

vanced in considerable force, with three field-pieces, moving 
with great caution, as the country was difficult, woody, and 
not well known to them. About three miles in front of 
White Clay Creek their vanguard was encountered by Gen- 
eral Maxwell and his light troops, and a severe skirmish 
took place. The fire of the American sharpshooters and 
riflemen, as usual, was very effective; but being inferior in 
number, and having no artillery. Maxwell was compelled 
to retreat across White Clay Creek, with the loss of about 
forty killed and wounded. The loss of the enemy was sup- 
posed to be much greater. 

The main body of the American army was now encamped 
on the east side of Red Clay Creek, on the road leading from 
Elkton to Philadelphia. The light infantry were in the ad- 
vance, at White Clay Creek. The armies were from eight 
to ten miles apart. In this position, Washington determined 
to await the threatened attack. 

On the 5th of September he made a stirring appeal to the 
army, in his general orders, stating the object of the enemy, 
the capture of Philadelphia. They had tried it before from 
the Jerseys, and had failed. He trusted they would be again 
disappointed. In their present attempt their all was at stake. 
The whole would be hazarded in a single battle. If defeated 
in that, they were totally undone, and the war would be at 
an end. Now then was the time for the most stenuous exer- 
tions. One bold stroke would free the land from rapine, 
devastation, and brutal outrage. "Two years," said he, 
''have we mamtained the war, and struggled with difficulties 
innumerable, but the prospect has brightened. Now is the 
time to reap the fruit of all our toils and dangers; if we 
behave like men this third campaign will be our last." 

Washington's numerical force at this time was about fifteen 
Vol. XIIL— ***23 

530 U-'orl^s of U/asl^iQ^toQ Iruir>^ 

thousand men, but from sickness and other causes the effect- 
ive force, mihtia included, did not exceed eleven thousand, 
and most of these indifferently armed and equipped. The 
strength of the British was computed at eighteen thousand 
men ; but, it is thought, not more than fifteen thousand were 
brought into action. 

On the 8th, the enemy advanced in two columns; one 
appeared preparing to attack the Americans in front, while 
the other extended its left up the west side of the creek, halt- 
ing at Milltown, somewhat to the right of the American po- 
sition. Washington now suspected an intention on the part 
of Sir William Howe to march by his right, suddenly pass 
the Brandy wine, gain the heights north of that stream, and 
cut him off from Philadelphia. He summoned a council of 
war, therefore, that evening, in which it was determined 
immediately to change their position, and move to the 
river in question. By two o'clock in the morning, the army 
was under march, and by the next evening was encamped 
on the high grounds in the rear of the Brandywine. The 
enemy on the same evening moved to Kennet Square, about 
seven miles from the American position. 

The Brandywine Creek, as it is called, commences with 
two branches, called the East and West branches, which unite 
in one stream, flowing from west to east about twenty-two 
miles, and emptying itself into the Delaware about twenty- 
five miles below Philadelphia. It has several fords; one 
called Chadd's Ford was, at that time, the most practicable, 
and in the direct route from the enemy's camp to Phila- 
delphia. As the principal attack was expected here, Wash- 
ington made it the center of his position, where he stationed 
the main body of his army, composed of Wayne's, Weedon's, 
and Muhlenberg's brigades, with the light infantry under 

Cife of U/a8l?ir)($toi> 531 

Maxwell. An eminence immediately above the ford had 
been intrenched in the night, and was occupied by Wayne 
and Proctor's artillery. Weedon's and Muhlenberg's bri- 
gades, which were Virginian troops, and formed General 
Greene's division, were posted in the rear on the heights, 
as a reserve to aid either wing of the army. With these 
Washington took his stand. Maxwell's light infantry were 
thrown in the advance, south of the BrandjT^wine, and posted 
on high ground each side of the road leading to the ford. 

The right wing of the army commanded by Sullivan, and 
composed of his division and those of Stephen and Stirling, 
extended up the Brandywine two miles beyond Washington's 
position. Its light troops and videttes were distributed quite 
up to the forks. A few detachments of ill-organized and 
undisciplined cavalry extended across the creek on the ex- 
treme right. The left wing, composed of the Pennsylvania 
militia, under Major-general Amstrong, was stationed about 
a mile and a half below the main body, to protect the lower 
fords, where the least danger was apprehended. The Brandy- 
wine, which ran in front of the whole line, was now the only 
obstacle, if such it might be called, between the two armies. 

Early on the morning of the 11th, a great column of 
troops was descried advancing on the road leading to Chadd's 
Ford. A skirt of woods concealed its force, but it was sup- 
posed to be the main body of the enemy ; if so, a general 
conflict was at hand. 

The Americans were immediately drawn out in order of 
battle. Washington rode along the front of the ranks, and 
was everywhere received with acclamations. A sharp firing 
of small arms soon told that Maxwell's light infantry were 
engaged with the vanguard of the enemy. The skirmishing 
was kept up for some time with spirit, when Maxwell was 

533 U/or^8 of U/asl^ip^top IrulQ^ 

driven across the Brandy wine below the ford. The enemy, 
who had advanced but slowly, did not attempt to follow, 
but halted on commanding ground, and appeared to recon- 
noiter the American position with a view to an attack. A 
heavy cannonading commenced on both sides, about ten 
o'clock. The enemy made repeated dispositions to force the 
ford, which brought on as frequent skirmishes on both sides 
of the river, for detachments of the light troops occasionally 
crossed over. One of these skirmishes was more than usu- 
ally severe: the British flank-guard was closely pressed, a 
captain and ten or fifteen men were killed, and the guard 
was put to flight ; but a large force came to their assistance, 
and the Americans were again driven across the stream. 
AU this while there was the noise and uproar of a battle, 
but little of the reality. The enemy made a great thunder- 
ing of cannon, but no vigorous onset, and Colonel Harrison, 
Washington's ''old secretary," seeing this cautious and dila- 
tory conduct on their part, wrote a hurried note to Congress, 
expressing his confident belief that the enemy would be 

Toward noon came an express from Sullivan, with a note 
received from a scouting party, reporting that General Howe, 
with a large body of troops and a park of artillery, was push- 
ing up the Lancaster road, doubtless to cross at the upper 
fords and turn the right flank of the American position. 

Startled by this information, Washington instantly sent 
off Colonel Theodoric Bland, with a party of horse, to recon- 
noiter above the forks and ascertain the truth of the report. 
In the meantime, he resolved to cross the ford, attack the 
division in front of him with his whole force, and rout it 
before the other could arrive. He gave orders for both wings 
to co-operate, when, as Sullivan was preparing to cross. 

Cife of U/a8l?ir>^toi> 533 

Major Spicer of the militia rode up, just from the forks, and 
assured him there was no enemy in that quarter. SulHvan 
instantly transmitted the intelligence to Washington, where- 
upon the movement was suspended until positive information 
could be obtained. After a time came a man of the neigh- 
borhood, Thomas Cheyney by name, spurring in all haste, 
the mare he rode in foam, and himself out of breath. Dash- 
ing up to the commander-in-chief, he informed him that he 
must instantly move or he would be surrounded. He had 
come upon the enemy unawares ; had been pursued and fired 
upon, but the fleetness of his mare had saved him. The 
main body of the British was coming down on the east side 
of the stream and was near at hand. Washington replied 
that, from information just received, it could not be so. 
*'You are mistaken, general," replied the other vehemently; 
**my life for it, you are mistaken." Then reiterating the 
fact with an oath, and making a draft of the road in the 
sand, **put me under guard," added he, ''until you find my 
story true." 

Another dispatch from Sullivan corroborated it. Colonel 
Bland, whom Washington had sent to reconnoiter above the 
forks, had seen the enemy two miles in the rear of Sullivan's 
right, marching down at a rapid rate, while a cloud of dust 
showed that there were more troops behind them. 

In fact, the old Long Island stratagem had been played 
over again. Knyphausen with a small division had en- 
grossed the attention of the Americans by a feigned attack 
at Chadd's Ford, kept up with great noise and prolonged by 
skirmishes; while the main body of the army under Corn- 
wallis, led by experienced guides, had made a circuit of 
seventeen miles, crossed the two forks of the Brandywine 
and arrived in the neighborhood of Birmingham meeting- 

53^ U/orl^s of U/a8l7ip<$top Iruir)<$ 

house, two miles to the right of Sullivan. It was a capital 
stratagem, secretly and successfully conducted. 

Finding that Cornwallis had thus gained the rear of the 
army, Washington sent orders to Sullivan to oppose him 
with the whole right wing, each brigade attacking as soon 
as it arrived upon the ground. "Wayne, in the meantime, 
was to keep Knyphausen at bay at the ford, and Greene, 
with the reserve, to hold himself ready to give aid wherever 

Lafayette, as a volunteer, had hitherto accompanied the 
commander-in-chief, but now, seeing there was likely to be 
warm work with the right wing, he obtained permission to 
join Sullivan; and spurred off with his aid-de-camp to the 
scene of action. From his narrative, we gather some of 
the subsequent details. 

Sulhvan, on receiving Washington's orders, advanced 
with his own, Stephen's, and Stirling's divisions, and began 
to form a line in front of an open piece of wood. The time 
which had been expended in transmitting intelligence, re- 
ceiving orders, and marching, had enabled Cornwallis to 
choose his ground and prepare for action. Still more time 
was given him from the apprehension of the three generals, 
upon consultation, of being out-flanked upon the right; and 
that the gap between Sullivan's and Stephen's divisions was 
too wide and should be closed up. Orders were accordingly 
given for the whole line to move to the right; and while in 
execution, Cornwallis advanced rapidl}^ with his troops in 
the finest order and opened a brisk fire of musketry and ar- 
tillery. The Americans made an obstinate resistance, but 
being taken at a disadvantage, the right and left wings were 
broken and driven into the woods. The center stood firm 
for a while, but being exposed to the whole fire of the enemy, 

Cife of U/a8l7ir>($tor> 535 

gave way at length also. The British, in following up their 
advantage, got entangled in the wood. It was here that 
Lafayette received his wound. He had thrown himself from 
his horse and was endeavoring to rally the troops when he 
was shot through the leg with a musket-ball, and had to be 
assisted into the saddle by his aid-de-camp. 

The Americans rallied on a height to the north of Dil- 
worth, and made a still more spirited resistance than at first, 
but were again dislodged and obliged to retreat with a 
heavy loss. 

While this was occurring with the right wing, Knyp- 
hausen, as soon as he learned from the heavy firing that 
Cornwallis was engaged, made a push to force his way across 
Chadd's Ford in earnest. He was vigorously opposed by 
Wayne with Proctor's artillery, aided by Maxwell and his 
Infantry. Greene was preparing to second him with the 
reserve, when he was summoned by Washington to the sup- 
port of the right wing; which the commander-in-chief had 
found in imminent peril. 

Greene advanced to the relief with such celerity that it 
is said on good authority his division accomplished the march, 
or rather run, of five miles, in less than fifty minutes. He 
arrived too late to save the battle, but in time to protect the 
broken masses of the left wing, which he met in full flight. 
Opening his ranks from time to time for the fugitives, and 
closing them the moment they had passed, he covered their 
retreat by a sharp and well-directed fire from his field-pieces. 
His grand stand was made at a place about a mile beyond 
Dilworth, which, in reconnoitering the neighborhood, Wash- 
ington had pointed out to him as well calculated for a second 
position, should the army be driven out of the first; and here 
he was overtaken by Colonel Pinckney, an aid-de-camp of 

536 U/orKs of U/ast^ip^top IrulQ^ 

the. commander-in-chief, ordering him to occupy this posi- 
tion and protect the retreat of the army. The orders were 
implicitly obeyed. Weedon's brigade was drawn up in a 
narrow defile, flanked on both sides by woods, and perfectly 
commanding the road; while Greene, with Muhlenberg's 
brigade, passing to the right, took his station on the road. 
The British came on impetuously, expecting but faint oppo- 
sition. They met with a desperate resistance and were 
repeatedly driven back. It was the bloody conflict of the 
bayonet ; deadly on either side, and lasting for a considerable 
time. "Weedon's brigade on the left maintained its stand 
also with great obstinacy, and the check given to the enemy 
by these two brigades allowed time for the broken troops to 
retreat. Weedon's was at length compelled by superior 
numbers to seek the protection of the other brigade, which 
he did in good order, and Greene gradually drew off the 
whole division in face of the enemy, who, checked by this 
vigorous resistance, and seeing the day far spent, gave up 
all further pursuit. 

The brave stand made by these brigades had, likewise, 
been a great protection to Wayne. He had for a long time 
withstood the attacks of the enemy at Chadd's Ford, until 
the approach, on the right, of some of the enemy's troops 
who had been entangled in the woods, showed him that the 
right wing had been routed. He now gave up the defense 
of his post, and retreated by the Chester road. Knyphau- 
sen's troops were too fatigued to pursue him ; and the others 
had been kept back, as we have shown, by Greene's division. 
So ended the varied conflict of the day. 

Lafayette gives an animated picture of the general retreat, 
ia which he became entangled. He had endeavored to rejoin 
Washington, but loss of blood compelled him to stop and 

Cife of U/a8l;>ip<$toQ 637 

have his wound bandaged. While thus engaged, he came 
near being captured. All round him was headlong terror 
and confusion. Chester road, the common retreat of the 
broken fragments of the army, from every quarter, was 
crowded with fugitives, with cannon, with baggage cars, 
all hurrying forward pell-mell, and obstructing each other; 
while the thundering of cannon, and volleying of musketry 
by the contending parties in the rear, added to the confusion 
and panic of the flight. 

The dust, the uproar, and the growing darkness, threw 
everything into chaos; there was nothing but a headlong 
struggle forward. At Chester, however, twelve miles from 
the field of battle, there was a deep stream with a bridge, 
over which the fugitives would have to pass. Here La- 
fayette set a guard to prevent their further flight. The com- 
mander-in-chief, arriving soon after with Greene and his 
gallant division, some degree of order was restored, and the 
whole army took its post behind Chester for the night. 

The scene of this battle, which decided the fate of Phila- 
delphia, was within six and twenty miles of that city, and 
each discharge of cannon could be heard there. The two 
parties of the inhabitants, whig and tory, were to be seen in 
separate groups in the squares and public places, waiting the 
event in anxious silence. At length a courier arrived. His 
tidings spread consternation among the friends of liberty. 
Many left their homes, entire families abandoned everything 
in terror and despair, and took refuge in the mountains. 
Congress, that same evening, determined to quit the city and 
repair to Lancaster, whence they subsequently removed to 
Yorktown. Before leaving Philadelphia, however, they 
summoned the militia of Pennsylvania, and the adjoining 
States, to join the main army without delay; and ordered 

638 U/orKs of U/a8l7ir7<^tor7 /ruip-^ 

down fifteen hundred Continental troops from Putnam's 
command on the Hudson. They also clothed Washington 
with power to suspend officers for misbehavior ; to fill up all 
vacancies under the rank of brigadiers ; to take all provisions, 
and other articles necessary for the use of the army, paying, 
or giving certificates for the same ; and to remove, or secure 
for the benefit of the owners, all goods and effects which 
might otherwise fall into the hands of the enemy and be 
serviceable to them. These extraordinary powers were 
limited to the circumference of seventy miles round head- 
quarters, and were to continue in force sixty days, unless 
sooner revoked by Congress. 

It may be as well here to notice in advance the conduct 
of Congress toward some of the foreigners who had mingled 
in this battle. Count Pulaski, the Polish nobleman, hereto- 
fore mentioned, who acted with great spirit as a volunteer 
in the light horse, riding up within pistol shot of the enemy 
to reconnoiter, was given a command of cavalry with the 
rank of brigadier-general. Captain Louis Fleury, also, who 
had acquitted himself with gallantry, and rendered essential 
aid in rallying the troops, having had a horse killed under 
him, was presented by Congress vrith another, as a testi- 
monial of their sense of his merit. 

Lafayette speaks, in his Memoirs, of the brilliant manner 
in which General Conway, the chevalier of St. Louis, ac- 
quitted himself at the head of eight hundred men, in the 
encounter with the troops of Cornwallis near Birmingham 
meeting-house. The veteran Deborre was not equally fort- 
unate in gaining distinction on this occasion. In the awk- 
ward change of position in the line when in front of the 
enemy, he had been the first to move, and without waiting 
for orders. The consequence was, his brigade fell into con- 

Cife of U/asl^ip^top 539 

fusion, and was put to flight. He endeavored to rally it, 
and was wounded in the attempt; but his efforts were in 
vain. Congress ordered a court of inquiry on his conduct, 
whereupon he resigned his commission and returned to 
France, complaining bitterly of his hard treatment. '*It 
was not his fault," he said, '4f American troops would 
run away." 


General Howe neglects to pursue his Advantage — Washington Re- 
treats to Germantown — Recrosses the Schuylkill and prepares 
for another Action — Prevented by Storms of Rain — Retreats to 
French Creek — Wayne detached to fall on the Enemy's Rear — 
His Pickets surprised — Massacre of Wayne's Men — Maneuvers 
of Howe on the Schuylkill — Washington sends for Re-enforce- 
ments — Howe marches into Philadelphia 

Notwithstanding the rout and precipitate retreat of the 
American army, Sir William Howe did not press the pursuit, 
but passed the night on the field of battle, and remained the 
two following days at Dilworth, sending out detachments to 
take post at Concord and Chester, and seize on Wilmington, 
whither the sick^and wounded were conveyed. *'Had the 
enemy marched directly to Derby," observes Lafayette, 
"the American army would have been cut up and destroyed; 
they lost a precious night, and it is perhaps the greatest fault 
in a war in which they have committed many." * 

Washington, as usual, profited by the inactivity of Howe ; 
quietly retreating through Derby (on the 12th) across the 
Schuylkill to Germantown, within a short distance of Phila- 

* Memoirs, Tom. i., p. 26. 

540 U/orKs of U/aslpiQ^tor) Iruir)^ 

delphia, where he gave his troops a day's repose. Finding 
them in good spirits, and in nowise disheartened by the 
regent affair, which they seemed to consider a check rather 
than a defeat, he resolved to seek the enemy again and give 
him battle. As preliminary measures, he left some of the 
Pennsylvania militia in Philadelphia to guard the city; 
others, under General Armstrong, were posted at the vari- 
ous passes of the Schuylkill, with orders to throw up works ; 
the floating bridge on the lower road was to be unmoored, 
and the boats collected and taken across the river. 

Having taken these precautions against any hostile move- 
ment by the lower road, Washington recrossed the Schuyl- 
kill, on the 14th, and advanced along the Lancaster road, 
with the intention of turning the left flank of the enemy. 
Howe, apprised of his intention, made a similar disposition 
to outflank him. The two armies came in sight of each 
other near the Warren Tavern, twenty-three miles from 
Philadelphia, and were on the point of engaging, but were 
prevented by a violent storm of rain which lasted for four 
and twenty hours. 

This inclement weather was particularly distressing to 
the Americans; who were scantily clothed, most of them 
destitute of blankets, and separated fron^ their tents and 
baggage. The rain penetrated their cartridge-boxes and the 
ill-fitted locks of their muskets, rendering the latter useless, 
being deficient in bayonets. In this plight Washington gave 
up for the present all thought of attacking the enemy, as 
their discipline in the use of the bayonet, with which they 
were universally furnished, would give them a great supe- 
riority in action. *'The hot-headed politicians," writes one 
of his officers, **will no doubt censure this part of his con- 
duct, while the more judicious will approve it, as not only 

Cife of \JJa8\)iT}<^tOT) 541 

expedient, but, in such a case, highly commendable. It was, 
without doubt, chagrining to a person of his fine feelings 
to retreat before an enemy not more in number than himself ; 
yet, with a true greatness of spirit, he sacrificed them to the 
good of his country."* There was evidently a growing 
disposition again to criticise Washington's movements, yet 
how well did this officer judge of him. 

The only aim at present was to get to some dry and 
secure place, where the army might repose and refit. All 
day, and for a great part of the night, they marched under 
a cold and pelting rain, and through deep and miry roads, 
to the Yellow Springs, thence to Warwick, on French Creek ; 
a weary march in stormy weather for troops destitute of 
every comfort, and nearly a thousand of them actually bare- 
footed. At Warwick furnace, ammunition and a few mus- 
kets were obtained, to aid in disputing the passage of the 
Schuylkill, and the advance of the enemy on Philadelphia. 

From French Creek, Wayne was detached with his 
division to get in the rear of the enemy, form a junction 
with General Smallwood and the Maryland militia, and, 
keeping themselves concealed, watch for an opportunity to 
cut off Howe's baggage and hospital train; in the meantime, 
Washington crossed the Schuylkill at Parker's Ford, and 
took a position to defend that pass of the river. 

Wayne set off in the night, and, by a circuitous march, 
got within three miles of the left wing of the British en- 
camped at Trydraffin, and concealing himself in a wood, 
waited the arrival of Smallwood and his militia. At day- 
break he reconnoitered the camp, where Howe, checked by 
the severity of the weather, had contented himself with 

* Memoir of Major Samuel Shaw, by Hon. Josiah Quincy. 

542 U/or^s of U/a8l?ip<$tor? Iruir?^ 

uniting his columns and remained under shelter. All day 
Wayne hovered about the camp; there were no signs of 
marching ; all kept quiet, but lay too compact to be attacked 
with prudence. He sent repeated messages to Washington, 
describing the situation of the enemy, and urging him to 
come on and attack them in their camp. '* Their supine- 
ness,'* said he in one of his notes, '* answers every purpose 
of giving you time to get up. If they attempt to move, I 
shall attack them at all events. . . . There never was, nor 
never will be, a finer opportunity of giving the enemy a fatal 
blow than at present. For God's sake push on as fast as 

Again, at a later hour, he writes: *'The enemy are very 
quiet, washing and cooking. I expect General Maxw^ell on 
the left flank every moment, and, as I lay on the right, we 
only want you in the rear to complete Mr. Howe's business. 
I believe he knows nothing of my situation, as I have taken 
every precaution to prevent any intelligence getting to him, 
at the same time keeping a watchful eye on his front, flanks 
and rear." 

His motions, however, had not been so secret as he im- 
agined. He was in a part of the country full of the dis- 
affected, and Sir William had received accurate information 
of his force and where he was encamped. General Gray, 
with a strong detachment, was sent to surprise him at night 
in his lair. Late in the evening, when Wayne had set his 
pickets and sentinels and thrown out his patrols, a country- 
man brought him word of the meditated attack. He doubted 
the intelligence, but strengthened his pickets and patrols, 
and ordered his troops to sleep upon their arms. 

At eleven o'clock the pickets were driven in at the point 
of the bayonet — the enemy were advancing in column. 

Cife of U/a8l;>iQ<$tor> 643 

Wayne instantly took post on the right of his position, to 
cover the retreat of the left, led by Colonel Hampton, the 
second in command. The latter was tardy, and incautiously 
paraded his troops in front of their fires, so as to be in full 
relief. The enemy rushed on without firing a gun ; all was 
the silent but deadly work of the bayonet and the cutlass. 
Nearly three hundred of Hampton's men were killed or 
wounded, and the rest put to flight. Wayne gave the enemy 
some well-directed volleys, and then, retreating to a small 
distance, rallied his troops and prepared for further defense. 
The British, however, contented themselves with the blow 
they had given, and retired with very little loss, taking with 
them between seventy and eighty prisoners, several of them 
officers, and eight baggage wagons heavily laden. 

General Smallwood, who was to have co-operated with 
Wayne, was within a mile of him at the time of his attack, 
and would have hastened to his assistance with his well 
known intrepidity ; but he had not the corps under his com- 
mand with which he had formerly distinguished himself, 
and his raw militia fled in a panic at the first sight of a 
return party of the enemy. 

Wayne was deeply mortified by the result of this affair, 
and, finding it severely criticised in the army, demanded a 
court-martial, which pronounced his conduct everything that 
was to be expected from an active, brave and vigilant officer; 
whatever blame there was in the matter fell upon his second 
in command, who, by delay, or misapprehension of orders, 
and an unskillful position of his troops, had exposed them 
to be massacred. 

On the 21st, Sir William Howe made a rapid march high 
up the Schuylkill, on the road leading to Reading, as if he 
intended either to capture the military stores deposited there 

544 U/orl^8 of U/asl^iQiJtor) Iruii)^ 

or to turn the right of the American army. Washington 
kept pace with him on the opposite side of the river, up to 
Pott's Grove, about thirty miles from Philadelphia. 

The movement on the part of Howe was a mere feint. 
No sooner had he drawn Washington so far up the river, 
than, by a rapid countermarch on the night of the 22d, he 
got to the ford below, threw his troops across on the next 
morning and pushed forward for Philadelphia. By the time 
Washington was apprised of this counter-movement, Howe 
was too far on his way to be overtaken by harassed, bare- 
footed troops, worn out by constant marching. Feeling the 
necessity of immediate re-enforcements, he wrote on the 
same day to Putnam at Peekskill: ''The situation of our 
affairs in this quarter calls for every aid and for every 
effort. I therefore desire that, without a moment's loss of 
time, you will detach as many effective rank and file, 
under proper generals and officers, as will make the whole 
number, including those with General McDougall, amount 
to twenty-five hundred privates and non-commissioned fit 
for duty. 

*'I must urge you, by every motive, to send this detach- 
ment without the least possible delay. No considerations 
are to prevent it. It is our first object to defeat, if possible, 
the army now opposed to us here." 

On the next day (24th) he wrote also to General Gates. 
*'This army has not been able to oppose General Howe's 
with the success that was wished, and needs a re-enforce- 
ment. I therefore request, if you have been so fortunate 
as to oblige General Burgoyne to retreat to Ticonderoga, 
or if you have not, and circumstances will admit, that you 
will order Colonel Morgan to join me again with his corps. 
I sent him up when I thought you materially wanted him ; 

Cife of \JJas>l[)iT)<^tOY) 545 

and, if his services can be dispensed with now, you will 
direct his immediate return.'* 

Having called a council of officers and taken their opin- 
ions, which concurred with his own, Washington determined 
to remain some days at Pott's Grove, to give repose to his 
troops and await the arrival of re-enforcements. 

Sir "William Howe halted at Germantown, within a short 
distance of Philadelphia, and encamped the main body of his 
army in and about that village ; detaching Lord Cornwallis 
with a large force and a number of officers of distinction to 
take formal possession of the city. That general marched 
into Philadelphia on the 26th, with a brilliant staff and 
escort, and followed by splendid legions of British and Hes- 
sian grenadiers, long trains of artillery, and squadrons of 
light dragoons, the finest troops in the army all in their best 
array; stepping to the swelling music of the band playing 
**God Save the King," and presenting with their scarlet 
uniforms, their glittering arms and flaunting feathers, a 
striking contrast to the poor patriot troops who had recently 
passed through the same streets, weary and way-worn, and 
happy if they could cover their raggedness with a brown 
linen hunting-frock, and decorate their caps with a sprig of 

In this way the British took possession of the city, so long 
the object of their awkward attempts, and regarded by them 
as a triumphant acquisition ; having been the seat of the 
general government; the capital of the confederacy. Wash- 
ington maintained his characteristic equanimity. **This is 
an event," writes he to Governor Trumbull, *' which we have 
reason to wish had not happened, and which will be attended 
with several ill consequences ; but I hope it will not be so 
detrimental as many apprehend, and that a little time and 

546 U/orl^s of U/a8l?ii7^tor) Iruip<$ 

perseverance will give us some favorable opportunity of 
recovering our loss, and of putting our affairs in a more 
flourishing condition." 

He had heard of the prosperous situation of affairs in 
the Northern department and the repeated checks given to 
the enemy. *'I flatter myself," writes he, '^we shall soon 
hear that they have been succeeded by other fortunate and 
interesting events, as the two armies, by General Gates's 
letter, were encamped near each other." 

We will now revert to the course of the campaign in that 
quarter, the success of which he trusted would have a bene- 
ficial influence on the operations in which he was personally 
engaged. Indeed, the operations in the Northern depart- 
ment formed, as we have shown, but a part of his general 
scheme, and were constantly present to his thoughts. His 
generals had each his own individual enterprise, or his own 
department to think about ; Washington had to think for the 


Dubious Position of Burgoyne — Collects his Forces — Ladies of Dis- 
tinction in his Camp — Lady Harriet Ackland — The Baroness de 
Riedesel — American Army Re-enforced — Silent Movements of 
Burgoyne — Watched from the Summit of the Hills — His March 
along the Hudson — Position of the two Camps— Battle on the 
19th Sept. — Burgoyne encamps nearer — Fortifies his Camp — 
Promised Co-operation by Sir Henry Clinton — Determines to 
await it — Quarrel between Gates and Arnold — Arnold deprived 
of Command — Burgoyne waits for Co-operation 

The checks which Burgoyne had received on right and 
left, and, in a great measure, through the spontaneous rising 
of the country, had opened his eyes to the difficulties of his 
situation, and the errors as to public feeling into which he 

Cife of U/as[7ip($toi> 547 

had been led by his tory counselors. *'The great bulk of the 
country is undoubtedly with the Congress in principle and 
zeal," writes he, "and their measures are executed with a 
secrecy and dispatch that are not to be equaled. Wherever 
the king's forces point, militia, to the amount of three or 
four thousand, assemble in twenty-four hours. They bring 
luith them their subsistence, etc., and, the alarm over, 
they return to their farms. The Hampshire Grants, in 
particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown last 
war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious 
race of the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon 
my left." What a picture this gives of a patriotic and war- 
like yeomanry. He complains, too, that no operation had 
yet been undertaken in his favor; the Highlands of the 
Hudson had not even been threatened ; the consequence was 
that two brigades had been detached from them to strengthen 
the army of Gates, strongly posted near the mouth of the 
Mohawk River, with a superior force of Continental troops, 
and as many militia as he pleased. 

Burgoyne declared that, had he any latitude in his orders, 
he would remain where he was, or perhaps fall back to Fort 
Edward, where his communication with Lake George would 
be secure, and wait for some event that might assist his 
movement forward; his orders, however, were positive to 
force a junction with Sir William Howe. He did not feel 
at liberty, therefore, to remain inactive longer than would 
be necessary to receive the re-enforcements of the additional 
companies, the German drafts and recruits actually on Lake 
Champlain, and to collect provisions enough for twenty-five 
days. These re- enforcements were indispensable, because, 
from the hour he should pass the Hudson River and proceed 
toward Albany, all safety of communication would cease. 

548 U/or^s of U/aal;^iQ<$t:or) IruiQ*^ 

*'I yet do not despair," adds he, manfully. ** Should I 
succeed in forcing my way to Albany, and find that country 
in a state to subsist my army, I shall think no more of a 
retreat, but, at the worst, fortify there, and await Sir Wil- 
liam's operations." * 

A feature of peculiar interest is given to this wild and 
rugged expedition by the presence of two ladies of rank and 
refinement involved in its perils and hardships. One was 
Lady Harriet Ackland, daughter of the Earl of Ilchester, 
and wife of Major Ackland of the grenadiers; the other was 
the Baroness de Riedesel, wife of the Hessian major-general. 
Both of these ladies had been left behind in Canada. Lady 
Harriet, however, on hearing that her husband was wounded 
in the affair at Hubbardton, instantly set out to rejoin him, 
regardless of danger, and of her beiug in a condition before 
long to become a mother. 

Crossing the whole length of Lake Chara plain, she found 
him in a sick bed at Skenesborough. After his recovery, 
she refused to leave him, but had continued with the army 
ever since. Her example had been imitated by the Baroness 
de Riedesel, who had joined the aimy at Fort Edward, bring- 
ing with her her three small children. The friendship and 
sympathy of these two ladies in all scenes of trial and suffer- 
ing, and their devoted attachment to their husbands, afford 
touching episodes in the story of the campaign. When the 
army was on the march, they followed a little distance in 
the rear. Lady Harriet in a two-wheeled tumbrel, the baron- 
ess in a calash, capable of holding herself, her children, and 
two servants. The latter has left a journal of her campaign- 
ing, which we may occasionally cite. *'They moved," she 

* Letter to Lord George Germaine. 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^top 549 

says, '*iii the midst of soldiery, who were full of animation, 
singing camp songs, and panting for action. They had to 
travel through almost impassable woods; in a picturesque 
and beautiful region ; but which was almost abandoned by 
its inhabitants, who had hastened to join the American 
army." **They added much to its strength," observes she, 
*'as they were all good marksmen, and the love of their 
country inspired them with more than ordinary courage." * 
The American army had received various re enforcements. 
The most efficient was Morgan's corps of riflemen, sent by 
Washington. He had also furnished it with artillery. It 
was now about ten thousand strong. Schuyler, finding 
himself and his proffered services slighted by Gates, had 
returned to Albany. His patriotism was superior to personal 
resentments. He still continued to promote the success of 
the campaign, exerting his influence over the Indian tribes 
to win them from the enemy. At Albany he held talks and 
war-feasts with deputations of Oneida, Tuscarora, and Onon- 
daga warriors, and procured scouting parties of them, which 
he sent to the camp, and which proved of great service. 
His former aid-de-camp. Colonel Brockholst Livingston, and 
his secretary. Colonel Varick, remained in camp, and kept 
him informed by letter of passing occurrences. They were 
much about the person of General Arnold, who, since his 
return from relieving Fort Stanwix, commanded the left 
wing of the army. Livingston, in fact, was with him as 
aid-de-camp. The jealousy of Gates was awakened by these 
circumstances. He knew their attachment to Schuyler, and 
suspected they were prejudicing the mind of Arnold against 
him; and this suspicion may have been the origin of a 

* RiedesePs Memoirs. 

550 U/orKs of U/asI^ip^toi) Iruip^ 

coolness and neglect which he soon evinced toward Arnold 
himself. These young oflScers, however, though devotedly 
attached to Schuyler from a knowledge of his generous 
character, were above any camp intrigue. Livingston was 
again looking forward with youthful ardor to a brush with 
the enemy, but regretted that his former chief would not be 
there to lead it. "Burgoyne," writes he to Schuyler exult- 
ingly, "is in such a situation that he can neither advance 
nor retire without fighting. A capital battle must soon 
be fought. I am chagrined to the soul when I think that 
another person will reap the fruits of your labors." * 

Colonel Varick, equally eager, was afraid Burgoyne 
might be decamping. ''His evening guns," writes he, 
''are seldom heard, and, when heard, are very low in 
sound." f 

The dense forests, in fact, which covered the country 
between the hostile armies, concealed their movements, and 
as Gates threw out no harassing parties, his information 
concerning the enemy was vague. Burgoyne, however, 
was diligently collecting all his forces from Skenesborough, 
Fort Anne, and Fort George, and collecting provisions; he 
had completed a bridge by which he intended to pass the 
Hudson, and force his way to Albany, where he expected 
co-operation from below. Everything was conducted with 
as much silence and caution as possible. His troops paraded 
without beat of drum and evening guns were discontinued. 
So stood matters on the 11th of September, when a report 
was circulated in the American camp that Burgoyne was in 
motion, and that he had made a speech to his soldiers, tell- 
ing them that the fleet had returned to Canada, and their 
only safety was to fight their way to New York. 

* MS. Letter to Schuyler. f Ibid. 

Cife of U/a8l;ip($tor> 551 

As General Gates was to receive an attack, it was 
thought he ought to choose the ground where to receive 
it; Arnold, therefore, in company with Kosciuszko, the Pol- 
ish engineer, reconnoitered the neighborhood in quest of a 
good camping-ground, and at length fixed upon a ridge of 
hills called Bemis's Heights, which Kosciuszko proceeded 
to fortify. 

In the meantime. Colonel Colburn was sent off with a 
small party to ascend the high hills on the east side of the 
Hudson, and watch the movements of the enemy with 
glasses from their summits, or from the tops of the trees. 
For three days he kept thus on the lookout, sending word 
from time to time to camp of all that he espied. 

On the 11th there were the first signs of movement 
among Burgoyne's troops. On the 13th and 14th, they 
slowly passed over a bridge of boats, which they had thrown 
across the Hudson, and encamped near Fish Creek. Col- 
burn counted eight hundred tents, including marquees. A 
mile in advance were fourteen more tents. The Hessians 
remained encamped on the eastern side of the river, but in- 
tervening woods concealed the number of their tents. There 
was not the usual stir of military animation in the camps. 
There were no evening nor morning guns. 

On the 15th, both English and Hessian camps struck 
their tents and loaded their baggage wagons. By twelve 
o'clock both began to march. Colburn neglected to notice 
the route taken by the Hessians; his attention was absorbed 
by the British, who made their way slowly and laboriously 
down the western side of the river, along a wretched road 
intersected by brooks and rivulets, the bridges over which 
Schuyler had broken down. The division had with it 
eighty-five baggage wagons and a great train of artillery, 

552 U/orl^s of U/asl^iQ^tor) IrulQ^ 

with two unwieldy twenty-four pounders acting like drag- 
anchors. It was a silent, dogged march, without beat of 
drum, or spirit-stirring bray of trumpet. A body of light 
troops, new levies, and Indians, painted and decorated for 
war, struck off from the rest and disappeared in the forest, 
up Fish Creek. From the great silence observed by Bur- 
goyne in his movements, and the care he took in keeping his 
men together, and allowing no straggling parties, Colonel 
Colbum apprehended that he meditated an attack. Having 
seen the army advance two miles on its march, therefore, 
he descended from the heights and hastened to the Ameri- 
can camp to make his report. A British prisoner, brought 
in soon afterward, stated that Burgoyne had come to a halt 
about four miles distant. 

On the following morning, the army was under arms at 
daylight; the enemy, however, remained encamped, repair- 
ing bridges in front, and sending down guard boats to recon- 
noiter; the Americans, therefore, went on to fortify their 
position. The ridge of hills called Bemis's Heights nses 
abruptly from the narrow flat bordering the west side of 
the river. Kosciuszko had fortified the camp with intrench- 
ments three-quarters of a mile in extent, having redoubts 
and batteries, which commanded the valley, and even the 
hills on the opposite side of the river; for the Hudson, in 
this upper part, is comparatively a narrow stream. From 
the foot of the height an intrenchment extended to the river, 
ending with a battery at the water edge, commanding a 
floating bridge. 

The right wing of the army, under the immediate com- 
mand of Gates, and composed of Glover's, Nixon's, and 
Patterson's brigades, occupied the brow of the hill nearest 
to the river, with the flats below. 

Cife of Wa&\)\T)(^tor) 553 

The left wing, commanded by Arnold, was on the side 
of the camp furthest from the river, and distant from the 
latter about three-quarters of a mile. It was composed of 
the New Hampshire brigade of General Poor, Pierre Van 
Courtlandt's and James Livingston's regiments of New 
York militia, the Connecticut miHtia, Morgan's riflemen, 
and Dearborn's infantry. The center was composed of 
Massachusetts and New York troops. 

Burgoyne gradually drew nearer to the camp, throwing 
out large parties of pioneers and workmen. The Americans 
disputed every step. A Hessian officer observes: *'The ene- 
my bristled up his hair, as we attempted to repair more 
bridges. At last we had to do him the honor of sending out 
whole regiments to protect our workmen." * 

It was Arnold who provoked this honor. At the head 
of fifteen hundred men he skirmished bravely with the su- 
perior force sent out against him, and retired with several 

Burgoyne now encamped about two miles from General 
Gates, disposing his army in two lines; the left on the river, 
the right extending at right angles to it, about six hundred 
yards, across the low grounds to a range of steep and rocky 
hills, occupied by the elite; a ravine formed by a rivulet 
from the hills passed in front of the camp. The low ground 
between the armies was cultivated; the hills were covered 
with woods, excepting three or four small openings and de- 
serted farms. Besides the ravines which fronted each camp 
there was a third one, midway between them, also at right 
angles to the river, f 

On the morning of the 19th, General Gates received in- 

* Schlozer's Briefwechsel, 

f Wilkinson's Memoris, i. 236. 

Vol. XIII.—* * * 21 

554 U/or^s of U/a8l?ir>($tor> Iruii>9 

telligence that the enemy were advancing in great force on 
his left. It was, in fact, their right wing, composed of the 
British line and led by Burgoyne in person. It was covered 
by the grenadiers and Hght infantry under General Fraser 
and Colonel Breyman, who kept along the high grounds on 
the right; while they, in turn, were covered in front and 
on the flanks by Indians, provincial royalists, and Canadians. 
The left wing and artillery were advancing at the same time, 
under Major-generals Phillips and Riedesel, along the great 
road and meadows by the river side, but they were retarded 
by the necessity of repairing broken bridges. It was the 
plan of Burgoyne that the Canadians and Indians should 
attack the central outposts of the Americans, and draw their 
attention in that direction, while he and Fraser, making a 
circuit through the woods, should join forces and fall upon 
the rear of the American camp. As the dense forests hid 
them from each other, signal guns were to regulate their 
movements. Three, fired in succession, were to denote that 
all was ready, and be the signal for an attack in front, flank 
and rear. 

The American pickets, stationed along the ravine of Mill 
Creek, sent repeated accounts to General Gates of the move- 
ments of the enemy ; but he remained quiet in his camp, as 
if determined to await an attack. The American officers 
grew impatient. Arnold especially, impetuous by nature, 
urged repeatedly that a detachment should be sent forth to 
check the enemy in their advance, and drive the Indians out 
of the woods, At length he succeeded in getting permis- 
sion, about noon, to detach Morgan with his riflemen and 
Dearborn with his infantry from his division. They soon 
fell in with the Canadians and Indians, which formed the 
advance guard of the enemy's right, and attacking them 

Cife of U/a8l^ir)<$t:or7 555 

with spirit, drove them in, or rather dispersed them. Mor- 
gan's riflemen, following up their advantage with too much 
eagerness, became likewise scattered, and a strong re-en- 
forcement of royalists arriving on the scene of action, the 
Americans, in their turn, were obliged to give way. 

Other detachments now arrived from the American camp, 
led by Arnold, who attacked Fraser on his right, to check 
his attempt to get in the rear of the camp. Finding the po- 
sition of Fraser too strong to be forced, he sent to headquar- 
ters for re-enforcements, but they were refused by Gates, 
who declared that no more should go; "he would not suffer 
his camp to be exposed." * The reason he gave was that it 
might be attacked by the enemy's left wing. 

Arnold now made a rapid counter-march, and, his move- 
ment being masked by the woods, suddenly attempted to 
turn Fraser's left. Here he came in full conflict with the 
British line, and threw himself upon it with a boldness and 
impetuosity that for a time threatened to break it and cut 
the wings of the army asunder. The grenadiers and Brey- 
man's riflemen hastened to its support. General Phillips 
broke his way through the woods with four pieces of artil- 
lery, and Riedesel came on with his heavy dragoons. Re- 
enforcements came likewise to Arnold's assistance ; his force, 
however, never exceeded three thousand men, and with these, 
for nearly four hours, he kept up a conflict almost hand to 
hand, with the whole right wing of the British army. Part 
of the time the Americans had the advantage of fighting 
under the cover of a wood, so favorable to their militia and 
sharpshooters. Burgoyne ordered the woods to be cleared 
by the bayonet. His troops rushed forward in columns with 

* Colonel Varick to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers. 

656 U/or^s of U/asl?ii?^tor> Frufi)^ 

a hurra! The Americans kept within their intrenchments 
and repeatedly repulsed them ; but, if they pursued their ad- 
vantage, and advanced into open field, they were in their 
turn driven back. 

Night alone put an end to a conflict which the British 
acknowledged to have been the most obstinate and hardly 
fought they had ever experienced in America. Both parties 
claimed the victory. But, though the British remained on 
the field of battle, where they lay all night upon their arms, 
they had failed in their object; they had been assailed in- 
stead of being the assailants; while the American troops had 
accomplished the purpose for which they had sallied forth ; 
had checked the advance of the enemy, frustrated their plan 
of attack, and returned exulting to their camp. Their loss 
in killed and wounded was between three and four hundred, 
including several officers; that of the enemy upward of five 

Burgoyne gives an affecting picture of the situation of 
the ladies of rank, already mentioned, during the action. 
Lady Harriet had been directed by her husband, Major Ack- 
land, to follow the route of the artillery and baggage, which 
was not exposed. "At the time the action began," writes 
Burgoyne, "she found herself near a small uninhabited hut, 
where she alighted. When it was found the action was be- 
coming general and bloody, the surgeons of the hospital took 
possession of the same place, as the most convenient for the 
first care of the wounded. Thus was the lady in hearing of 
one continued fire of cannon and musketry for four hours 
together, with the presumption, from the post of her hus- 
band at the head of the grenadiers, that he was in the most 
exposed part of the action. She had three female compan- 
ions, the Baroness of Riedesel, and the wives of two British 

Cife of \l/3s\)\v)<^toT) 557 

officers. Major Harnage and Lieutenant Reynell ; but in the 
event their presence served but little for comfort. Major 
Harnage was soon brought to the surgeons very badly 
wounded; and in a little time after came intelligence that 
Lieutenant Reynell was shot dead. Imagination wants no 
helps to figure the state of the whole group." 

Arnold was excessively indignant at Gates's withhold- 
ing the re-enforcements he had required in the heat of the 
action; had thej^ been furnished, he said, he might have sev- 
ered the line of the enemy and gained a complete victory. 
He was urgent to resume the action on the succeeding morn- 
ing, and follow up the advantage he had gained, but Gates 
declined, to his additional annoyance. He attributed the re- 
fusal to pique or jealousy, but Gates subsequently gave as a 
reason the great deficiency of powder and ball in the camp, 
which was known only to himself, and which he kept secret 
until a supply was sent from Albany. 

Burgoyne now strengthened his position with intrench- 
ments and batteries, part of them across the meadows which 
bordered the river, part on the brow of the heights which 
commanded them. The Americans likewise extended and 
strengthened their line of breastworks on the left of the 
camp; the right was already unassailable. The camps were 
within gunshot, but with ravines and woods between them. 

Washington's predictions of the effect to be produced by 
Morgan's riflemen approached fulfillment. The Indians, dis- 
mayed at the severe treatment experienced from these vet- 
eran bushfighters, were disappearing from the British camp. 
The Canadians and royal provincials, ''mere trimmers," as 
Burgoyne called them, were deserting in great numbers, and 
he had no confidence in those who remained. 

His situation was growing more and more critical. On 

558 U/orl^s of U/asI^ip^tor) Iruii7<$ 

the 21st, he heard shouts in the American camp, and in a 
Httle while their cannon thundered a feu de joie. News 
had been received from General Lincoln that a detachment 
of New England troops under Colonel Brown had surprised 
the carrying-place, mills, and French lines at Ticonderoga, 
captured an armed sloop, gunboats, and bateaux, made three 
hundred prisoners, besides releasing one hundred American 
captives, and were laying siege to Fort Independence.'^ 

Fortunately for Burgoyne, while affairs were darkening 
in the North, a ray of hope dawned from the South. While 
the shouts from the American camp were yet ringing in his 
ears, came a letter in cipher from Sir Henry Clinton, dated 
the 12th of September, announcing his intention in about ten 
days to attack the forts in the Highlands of the Hudson. 

Burgoyne sent back the messenger the same night, and 
dispatched, moreover, two officers in disguise by different 
routes, all bearing messages informing Sir Henry of his 
perilous situation, and urging a diversion that might oblige 
General Gates to detach a part of his army ; adding that he 
would endeavor to maintain his present position, and await 
favorable events until the 12th of October, f 

The jealousy of Gates had been intensely excited at find- 
ing the whole credit of the late affair given by the army to 
Arnold. In his dispatches to government he made no men- 
tion of him. This increased the schism between them, Wil- 
kinson, the adjutant-general, who was a sycophantic adher- 
ent of Gates, pandered to his pique by withdrawing from 
Arnold's division Morgan's rifle corps and Dearborn's light 
infantry, its arm of strength which had done such brilliant 

* Colonel Varick to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers, 
f Burgoyne to Lord George Germaine. 

Cife of U/a8l?iQ($tor7 559 

service ia the late affair. They were henceforth to be sub- 
ject to no order but those from headquarters. 

Arnold called on Gates on the evening of the 2 2d to re- 
monstrate. High words passed between them, and matters 
came to an open rupture. Gates, in his heat, told Arnold 
that he did not consider him a major-general, he having sent 
his resignation to Congress — that he had never given him 
the command of any division of the army — that General Lin- 
coln would arrive in a day or two, and then he would have 
no further occasion for him, and would give him a pass to 
go to Philadelphia, whenever he chose.* 

Arnold returned to his quarters in a rage, and wrote a 
note to Gates, requesting the proffered permit to depart for 
Philadelphia; by the time he received it his ire had cooled 
and he had changed his mind. He determined to remain in 
camp and abide the anticipated battle. 

Lincoln, in the meantime, arrived in advance of his 
troops; which soon followed to the amount of two thou- 
sand. Part of the troops, detached by him under Colonel 
Brown, were besieging Ticonderoga and Fort Independence. 

Colonel Brown himself, with part of his detachment, had 
embarked on Lake George in an armed schooner and a 
squadron of captured gunboats and bateaux, and was threat- 
ening the enem^^'s deposit of baggage and heavy artillery at 
Diamond Island. The toils so skillfully spread were encom- 
passing Burgoyne more and more ; the gates of Canada were 
closing behind him. 

A morning or two after Lincoln's arrival, Arnold ob- 
served him giving some directions in the left division, and 
quickly inquired whether he was doing so by order of Gen- 

* Col. Livingston to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers. 

660 U/orHs of U/a8l?ir>^toi> Iruir>^ 

eral Gates; being answered in the negative, he observed that 
the left division belonged to him ; and that he believed his 
(Lincoln's) proper station was on the right, and that of Gen- 
eral Gates ought to be in the center. He requested him to 
mention this to General Gates and have the matter adjusted. 

**He is determined," writes Varick, **not to suffer any- 
one to interfere in his division, and says it will be death to 
any officer who does so in action." Arnold, in fact, was in 
a bellicose vein, and rather blustered about the camp. Gates, 
he said, could not refuse him his command, and he would 
not yield it now that a battle was expected. 

Some of the general officers and colonels of his division 
proposed to make him an address, thanking him for his past 
services, particularly in the late action, and entreating him 
to stay. Others suggested that the general officers should 
endeavor to procure a reconciliation between the jarring 
parties. Lincoln was inclined to do so; but, in the end, 
neither measure was taken, through fear of offending Gen- 
eral Gates. In the meantime Arnold remained in camp, 
treated, he said, as a cipher, and never consulted; though 
when Congress had sent him to that department, at the re- 
quest of General "Washington, they expected the commander 
would at least have taken his opinion on public matters. 

On the 30th, he gave vent to his feelings in an indignant 
letter to Gates. "!N'ot withstanding I have reason to think 
your treatment proceeds from a spirit of jealousy," writes 
he, **and that I have everything to fear from the malice of 
my enemies, conscious of my own innocency and integrit}^ I 
?in determined to sacrifice my feelings, present peace, and 
auiet, to the public good, and continue in the army at this 
iritical juncture, when my country needs every support. 

'*I hope," concludes he, **you will not impute this hint to 

Cife of lI/asl7iQ($top 561 

a wish to command the army, or to outshine you, when I as- 
sure you it proceeds from my zeal for the cause of my coun- 
try, in which I expect to rise or fall." * 

All this time the Americans were harassing the British 
camp with frequent night alarms and attacks on its pickets 
and outposts. 

''From the 20th of September to the 7th of October," 
writes Burgoyne, "the armies were so near that not a night 
passed without firing, and sometimes concerted attacks upon 
our advanced pickets. I do not believe either ofi&cer or sol- 
dier ever slept in that interval without his clothes ; or that 
any general officer or commander of a regiment passed a sin- 
gle night without being upon his legs occasionally at differ- 
ent hours, and constantly an hour before daylight.*' f 

Still Burgoyne kept up a resolute mien, telling his sol* 
diers, in a harangue, that he was determined to leave his 
bones on the field, or force his way to Albany. He yet 
clung to the hope that Sir Henry Clinton might operate in 
time to relieve him from his perilous position. 

We will now cast a look toward New York, and ascer- 
tain the cause of Sir Henry's delay in his anxiously expected 
operations on the Hudson. 

* Gates's Papers, N. Y. Hist. Lib. 
f Burgoyne's Expedition, p. 166. 

562 U/orKs of U/asl^io^toi) Iruip^ 


Preparations of Sir Henry Clinton — State of the Highland Defenses 
— Putnam Alarmed — Advance of the Armament up the Hudson 
— Plan of Sir Henry Clinton — Peekskill threatened — Putnam de- 
ceived — Secret March of the Enemy through the Mountains- 
Forts Montgomery and Clinton overpowered — Narrow Escape 
of the Commanders — Conflagration and Explosion of the Ameri- 
can Frigates— Rallying Efforts of Putnam and Governor Clin- 
ton — ^The Spy and the Silver Bullet — Esopus burned — Ravaging 
Progress of the Enemy up the Hudson 

The expedition of Sir Henry Clinton had awaited the 
arrival of re-enforcements from Europe, which were slowly 
crossing the ocean in Dutch bottoms. At length they ar- 
rived, after a three months' voyage, and now there was a 
stir of warlike preparation at New York ; the streets were 
full of soldiery, the bay full of ships; and water craft of all 
kinds were plying about the harbor. Between three and 
four thousand men were to be embarked on board of ships 
of war, armed galleys, and flat-bottomed boats. A southern 
destination was given out, but shrewd observers surmised 
the real one. 

The defenses of the Highlands, on which the security of 
the Hudson depended, were at this time weakly garrisoned ; 
some of the troops having been sent off to re-enforce the 
armies on the Delaware and in the North. Putnam, who 
had the general command of the Highlands, had but eleven 
hundred Continental and four hundred militia troops with 
him at Peekskill, his headquarters. There was a feeble 

Cife of U/a8l7iQ($toi> 563 

garrison at Fort Independence in the vicinity of Peekskill, 
to guard the public stores and work-shops at Continental 

The Highland forts, Clinton, Montgomery and Constitu- 
tion, situated among the mountains and forming their main 
defense, were no better garrisoned, and George Clinton, who 
had the command of them, and who was in a manner the 
champion of the Highlands, was absent from his post attend- 
ing the State Legislature at Kingston (Esopus), in Ulster 
County, in his capacity of governor. 

There were patriot eyes in New York to watch the course 
of events, and patriot boats on the river to act as swift mes- 
sengers. On the 29th of September Putnam writes to his 
coadjutor the governor: "I have received intelligence on 
which I can fully depend that the enemy had received a re- 
enforcement at New York, last Thursday, of about three 
thousand British and foreign troops; that General Clinton 
has called in guides who belong about Croton River; has 
ordered hard bread to be baked ; that the troops are called 
from Paulus Hook to King's Bridge, and the whole troops 
are now under marching orders. I think it highly probable 
the designs of the enemy are against the posts of the High- 
lands, or of some part of the counties of "Westchester or 
Dutchess." Under these circumstances he begged a re-en- 
forcement of the militia to enable him to maintain his post, 
and intimated a wish for the personal assistance and counsel 
of the governor. In a postscript he adds: ''The ships are 
drawn up in the river, and I believe nothing prevents them 
from paying us an immediate visit but a contrary wind." 

On receiving this letter the governor forthwith hastened 
to his post in the Highlands with such militia force as he 
CJould collect. We have heretofore spoken of his Highland 

«[6i U/orK« of U/asl^iQ^toi) IrulQ^ 

citadel, Fort Montgomery, and of the obstructions of chain, 
boom, and chevaux-de-frise between it and the opposite prom- 
ontory of Anthony's Nose, with which it had been hoped to 
barricade the Hudson. The chain had repeatedly given way 
under the pressure of the tide, but the obstructions were still 
considered efficient, and were protected by the guns of the 
fort, and of two frigates and two armed galleys anchored 

Fort Clinton had subsequently been erected within rifle- 
shot of Fort Montgomery, to occupy ground which com- 
manded it. A deep ravine and stream called Peploep's Kill 
intervened between the two forts, across which there was a 
bridge. The governor had his headquarters in Fort Mont- 
gomery, which was the northern and largest fort, but its 
works were unfinished. His brother James had charge of 
Fort Clinton, which was complete. The whole force to gar- 
rison the associate forts did not exceed six hundred men, 
chiefly militia, but they had the veteran Colonel Lamb (rf 
the artillery with them, who had served in Canada, and a 
company of his artillerists was distributed in the two forts. 

The armament of Sir Henry Clinton, which had been 
waiting for a wind, set sail in the course of a day or two and 
stood up the Hudson, dogged by American swift-rowing 
whaleboats. Late at night of the 4th of October came a 
barge across the river from Peekskill to Fort Montgomery, 
bearing a letter from Putnam to the governor. **This morn- 
ing," writes he, **we had information from our guard boats 
that there were two ships of war, three tenders and a large 
number of flat-bottomed boats coming up the river. They 
proceeded up as far as Tarrytown, where they landed their 
men. This evening the}^ were followed by one large man- 
of-war, five topsail vessels, and a large number of small 

Cife of U/asl^iQ^toQ 565 

craft. I have sent off parties to examine their route and 
harass their march, if prudent. By information from sev- 
eral different quarters, we have reason to beheve they intend 
for this post. They are now making up, as we hear, for the 
Croton Bridge."* 

The landing of troops at Tarrytown was a mere feint on 
the part of Sir Henry to distract the attention of the Ameri- 
cans; after marching a few miles into the country they 
returned and re-embarked; the armament continued across 
the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay to Verplanck's Point, 
where, on the 5th, Sir Henry landed with three thousand 
men about eight miles below PeekskilL 

Putnam drew back to the hills in the rear of the village 
to prepare for the expected attack, and sent off to Governor 
Clinton for all the troops he could spare. So far the maneu- 
vers of Sir Henry Clinton had been successful. It was his 
plan to threaten an attack on Peekskill and Fort Independ- 
ence, and, when he had drawn the attention of the Ameri- 
can commanders to that quarter, to land troops on the west- 
ern shore of the Hudson, below the Dunderberg (Thunder 
Hill), make a rapid march through the defiles behind that 
mountain to the rear of Forts Montgomery and Clinton, 
come down on them by surprise, and carry them by a coup 
de main. 

Accordingly at an early hour of the following morning, 
taking advantage of a thick fog, he crossed with two thou- 
sand men to Stony Point, on the